2022 South Side Questions: Will Gunner Olszewski Lose His Roster Spot To Calvin Austin III?

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: Will Gunner Olszewski be released to make room on the 53-man roster for Calvin Austin III?

Although the depth chart does not currently reflect it, wide receiver Steven Sims essentially confirmed yesterday that Gunner Olszewski will be benched, telling reporters that he himself will be getting a chance to return kicks on Sunday.

It’s rather unlikely that the team is going to dress six wide receivers, which likely means that Olszewski will be a gameday healthy scratch for the time being for whatever games he may be on the 53-man roster. But given the current state of things, one has to wonder how much longer that will be.

At the same time that Sims confirmed he will be getting the opportunity to return kicks for the Steelers, they also opened rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III’s activation window from the Reserve/Injured List, which all but assures that he will be added to the 53-man roster within the next three weeks.

That could happen at the end of this week, or any time in between, and when it happens, the team will have to let somebody go to open up a roster spot.

If Sims is the return man, then they will have to either carry seven wide receivers or release Olszewski, who has been little-used offensively and would certainly be used less frequently than Austin once they get him going.

Even though Pittsburgh signed him to a two-year, $4.2 million deal this offseason, it wouldn’t stop them from releasing him if they don’t believe he is one of their best options on the roster. After all, they cut Donte Moncrief early in his contract after signing him to a two-year, $9 million deal.

Sometimes things just don’t work out. The Steelers signed Olszewski primarily to be a return man, and he has put the ball on the ground twice in four games as a punt returner (plus another time on offense). If they can’t trust him to do the one job he’s here to do, you can’t be afraid to let go because of sunk costs.

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