Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: TE Vance McDonald
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: After missing two games while spending time on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, veteran tight end Vance McDonald is back in the building and working toward getting back on the field. With yesterday’s game being postponed, he has also been afforded additional time to get his feet back under him before he has to step on the field.
If the Steelers are looking to continue to get their running game back on track, then the return of veteran tight end Vance McDonald is a step in the right direction—especially after the last two games of watching Zach Gentry try to block.
McDonald made it clear entering this season that he understands his role as the blocking tight end, and he has done a better job of it than he had over the past couple of years. As you all know, the run game has lagged over the second half of the season, and the team is looking to get that back into an established range of acceptability.
And as a bonus for the veteran tight end, he doesn’t have to come back on a short week. He was activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 List on Tuesday, and the Steelers were scheduled to play on Thursday, meaning he would have barely gotten an opportunity to have a proper practice, let alone recovery time.
With the Baltimore Ravens game pushed back to Sunday—at least—he now has additional time to get himself right, to get a couple of practices under his belt and test where he is before he has to do it in a game against live opponents.
It is a small silver lining for the Steelers after the disappointment of having the game postponed, something that the organization clearly was not happy about. But what’s done is done, and there can be some short-term good to come from it, particularly for certain ailing or returning individuals such as McDonald.