2022 South Side Questions: Is There A Danger Of Calvin Austin III Not Returning From IR This Year?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Is there a danger of Calvin Austin III remaining on the Reserve/Injured List all season?

I warned when the Steelers first placed him on the Reserve/Injured List that we might not see rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III for a while. My reasoning was that if there wasn’t a need for him, then they would have no reason to rush him onto the roster and try to find a place for him if he were just going to be a healthy scratch.

But once they allowed him to start practicing and opened his 21-day activation window, it was obvious that he would be back, and sooner rather than later—right? Well, he’s about to complete three full weeks of practice and we still have no idea what the plan is.

If the Steelers don’t activate him by the time 21 days are up (beginning from October 5), then he will have to remain on the Reserve/Injured List for the remainder of the season. There has been some seemingly unsubstantiated speculation out there from some media personalities out there indicating that they are not confident the Steelers will actually end up promoting him.

But why? Unless he suffered some sort of injury setback, it seems incredibly unlikely that they wouldn’t activate him at this point, considering they took the step of getting him into practice. And there have been no indications that he isn’t healthy.

The team could activate him today in time for Sunday night’s game and end any speculation, valid or not, that might be out there. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if they did. But is there a chance that they end up not doing it—even just deciding that where he is and where the roster is right now, his being on it doesn’t make it better?

That would seem a somewhat radical step to take given that they will lose him for the remainder of the season if they don’t activate him by Wednesday, but that means they still have time. It doesn’t have to be before the Sunday night game. And Gunner Olszewski’s roster spot is sitting out there. Steven Sims is dealing with an injury, though, and may not play, which would mean that they either need Olszewski to return or must be willing to trust Austin to do it in his first game.

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