2022 South Side Questions: Will WR Calvin Austin III Be Activated Today?

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 wide receiver Calvin Austin III be activated to the 53-man roster today?

You probably already knew what the daily question would be today—on the off chance that you actually gave any thought to the subject—before logging on. Will the Steelers activate rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III off of the Reserve/Injured List today?

It’s a fairly important question, given that, if they don’t, the fourth-round pick will be required to spend the rest of the season on reserve and will not be eligible to be added to the 53-man roster, effectively ending his rookie season.

Head coach Mike Tomlin struck a pessimistic tone about Austin’s ability to contribute this week, but cited not his health status, but rather his inexperience. He suffered a foot injury on the day before the team’s first preseason game, so he hasn’t even been in a stadium.

But would Tomlin really put him on the shelf for the final nine games of the regular season because they’re not confident they can’t work him into the gameplan for Sunday? That’s the real question. Barring some unknown setback, we can reasonably conclude that he’s healthy, so it’s a matter of contribution.

Steven Sims getting healthy, or being projected to be healthy, would be an aid to his cause, because that would enable the team to release Gunner Olszewski. As a fourth-year veteran, he would still be subject to waivers, so they could not guarantee he can be re-signed to the practice squad if they chose to waive him without knowing Sims would be healthy and able to fulfill his return duties.

I’ll just leave it off with this. I don’t know what he would be able to contribute, but it would be a real shame if Tomlin elected not to activate Austin if he is healthy. This offense has exactly one reception on two targets for 11 yards amongst all wide receivers not named Diontae, Chase, or George.

Even if he spends most or even all of the season as a healthy scratch, they can reasonably find somewhere to put him. With Josh Jackson banged up and the secondary getting healthy again, that’s one obvious possible roster spot. Kendrick Green’s is another.

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