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2021 South Side Questions: Will Carlos Davis Play Tonight?

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 are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. 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: Will Carlos Davis play tonight?

The Steelers activated second-year defensive tackle Carlos Davis from the Reserve/Injured List over the weekend; however, they did not dress him for Sunday’s game. It’s not clear whether or not they felt he needed a little more time, or if they didn’t think he needed a helmet.

The five linemen who dressed were Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux, and newcomer Montravius Adams, who served as the team’s primary nose tackle and performed well.

Of the five, I imagine there would be pretty healthy agreement that Mondeaux would be the one who does not dress. He was originally called up from the practice squad last year for special teams purposes, but he’s not playing that role this year.

Presumably, the Steelers believe that a healthy Carlos Davis is a better nose tackle than Mondeaux, with special teams being roughly equal. But it’s hard to know what to read into the fact that he did not dress on Sunday and what that might mean for the future—particularly for this game, perhaps, on a short week, if indeed they felt he needed more time.

A seventh-round pick in 2020, Davis progressed over the course of his rookie season and ultimately surpassed Isaiah Buggs on the depth chart. He has been injured, however, since the very early portions of the season. He logged 17 snaps on defense in the opener, and has not played since. He remained on the 53-man roster until after the bye week, however, before they placed him on IR, suggesting an injury that proved more long-lasting than initially believed.

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