The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will dress all six defensive linemen in order to make up for Stephon Tuitt’s absence.
Explanation: For the first time all season, the Steelers will be without one of their two star defensive linemen. Stephon Tuitt is believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, which will keep him out of tomorrow’s game. With Isaiah Buggs making it back, however, they have six linemen to dress. They normally dress only five, but there are reasons to believe six will dress.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said it will be an all-man job to replace Stephon Tuitt. They used to have Javon Hargrave to fill in. Now they don’t, and it will take a group effort. Tyson Alualu will see a lot of snaps, but they will also need Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Henry Mondeaux, and Carlos Davis at different points in the game—in part just to account for the 60-plus snaps that will be missing.
The roster makeup also supports this. With James Conner and Jaylen Samuels both out, plus Trey Edmunds on the Reserve/Injured List, they will only dress three running backs even with Wendell Smallwood being promoted from the practice squad.
There’s your extra helmet right there. And then throw in the fact that Mondeaux is a special teams contributor, and you have your justification for dress six.
But Mondeaux had already been dressing over Buggs. And Buggs has missed practice because he was on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, so he will be a bit behind. On top of that, he was already coming off of an ankle injury.
The Steelers have already called up safety Antoine Brooks from the practice squad as a Covid-19 replacement, so that makes up the deficit for the missing helmet given to a running back. And with Kevin Dotson coming back, you still have the eight offensive linemen helmets accounted for on top of that—regardless of the fact that the eighth lineman is an extra helmet that can’t be used on another position anyway.