The removal of running back Rashard Mendenhall from the Active PUP list on Friday presents not only questions about when he will actually will be able to contribute, but also what effect it will have on the Pittsburgh Steelers final 53 man roster as well.
Now that Mendenhall has been removed from the PUP list, he can\’t go back on it, so that means he will be on the roster whether he is ready or not. Isaac Redman is currently recovering from both a groin and hip injury of some sorts, but early word is that he will be able to return to practice next week. We shall see.
Assuming Redman is healthy by week one, the Steelers also have running backs Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey on the roster as well. That means in all likelihood that the 53 man roster will consist of 5 running backs and at least 1 fullback in Will Johnson. In mine and most other 53 man roster predictions that you have likely seen up until this point, most have the Steelers keeping only 4 running backs with Mendenhall starting the season on the PUP list.
Now that it looks like 5 running backs will be carried, the extra roster spot will likely come via them only keeping 4 wide receivers initially, with Rainey serving as the 5th should the need arise. Face it, none of the young wide receivers have stuck out so far in training camp, so keeping the one with the most upside on the practice squad seems likely to be the plan.
Should the Steelers decide to keep 5 wide receivers as well, then the options to accommodate Mendenhall shoot off into several different directions with one of those being that they would not break camp with 5 safeties. The only reason they would consider 5 safeties on the 53 would be because Ryan Clark will sit out the week 1 game against the Denver Broncos because of his sickle cell trait. Should they decide to go with just the normal 4 with Clark of course being one them, they would be able to still accommodate a 9th linebacker on the opening 53 with both James Harrison and Jason Worilds status for week 1 in doubt.
There is still quite a ways to go before the final cut down takes place, but the addition of Mendenhall back to the roster now, certainly brings a whole new twist to how the final 53 could shake out.
One thing that crossed my mind while writing this post is that it makes you wonder if the Steelers front office now knows for certain that restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace will indeed report and sign his tender prior to the start of the season. It\’s just a thought and one that we will never get an answer to.
My next 53 man roster prediction will be out following the game this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, and once again it will have a few more changes on it.