Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Returning after missing four games due to a hamstring injury, Ahkello Witherspoon only finished Sunday’s game due to the fact that the man who replaced him for roughly half of the 60 minutes, James Pierre, suffered a late foot injury.
Ahkello Witherspoon was beaten multiple times for multiple touchdowns in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, with veteran wide receiver A.J. Brown making him look like quite the amateur, or at least quite rusty.
Whether he was rusty or not, the fact is that he hasn’t played in a while. He had been missing since week three when he suffered a hamstring injury, missing the subsequent four games and only returning to play in yesterday’s game.
I’ve already said this multiple times in different articles, but one can’t help but wonder if he wishes his hamstring needed another week, because this was certainly a game to forget, and possibly even one that will affect his job.
After all, he got benched. After giving up another touchdown late in the first half, head coach Mike Tomlin made the decision to pull him in spite of the fact that Levi Wallace was already missing the game, plugging in James Pierre instead.
As mentioned, Witherspoon would have remained on the bench for the rest of the way were it not for Pierre suffering a foot injury late in the game, which resulted in him getting back on the field just to finish things out because they needed a body (Josh Jackson was also not available).
The Steelers now head into their bye week, on the other side of which they will have to make a decision about what to do at cornerback. Will Wallace be the starter next to Cameron Sutton, with Arthur Maulet in the slot? Will James Pierre move ahead of Witherspoon? While they give Witherspoon a clean slate and just say him ‘get yourself right’? We’ve got time now to find out. But the last taste he left in our mouths is going to linger.