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2021 South Side Questions: Who Would Karl Joseph Displace On 53-Man Roster?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Who will Karl Joseph replace on the 53-man roster (assuming that he is indeed called up)?

The Steelers announced on the day after roster cuts that veteran former first-round safety Karl Joseph, whom they’d previously hosted on a free agent visit, was among those signing to their practice squad. It was reported later that same day that the plan is to promote him to the 53-man roster, and that he must clear COVID-19 onboarding testing first.

He has presumably cleared the testing window by now, since he was signed on the first, so if he is going to be called up before Sunday’s game, it will have to be soon. Perhaps as early as today, though equally likely it could be at any point before kickoff that they are eligible to make such a move.

If we take it as a given that he will be promoted, then the question is, who will he replace? The most popular answers, I’m certain, will be one of two inside linebackers, either Ulysees Gilbert III or Marcus Allen. The former making the cut was a surprise to many. Allen suffered a knee injury in the finale, but it appears that he’s healthy now because he wasn’t on yesterday’s injury report.

But he could replace another safety, too, most likely Tre Norwood, the rookie seventh-round pick, though Miles Killebrew can’t be ruled out, either. I think those are the only major realistic candidates at this point, given the relatively slim numbers now at most positions, with the possible exception being one of the offensive linemen who were already cut—B.J. Finney and Rashaad Coward—who could circle back to the practice squad.

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