Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Weslye Saunders is back in the fold after serving his four game suspension, but it is still unclear whether or not he will suit up Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
The Steelers requested and were granted a roster exemption for Sanders that expires at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, and as of late Tuesday night, they have yet to activate Saunders to the 53 man roster.
The short week, combined with the extended amount of time that Saunders spent away from the team, could very well delay his season debut until week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals. That being said, Saunders is still preparing as if he will play against the Titans.
"Coach (Tomlin) hasn’t said anything about it,” Saunders said on Tuesday. “As far as I know I am playing. I have prepared mentally and physically to play on Thursday. That is what I am expecting to do."
Saunders, who worked out in Arizona during his suspension, was asked Tuesday who he will lean on to help get him back up to speed with the playbook and his answer was not surprising. "Obviously it will be Heath (Miller)," said Saunders. "I feel like Heath knows everything. If I had any questions he was the person that I was texting when I was out in Arizona. He\'s the guy I talk to the most."
While Saunders sounded optimistic, offensive coordinator Todd Haley certainly did not make it sound like Saunders is a slam dunk to play Thursday night.
"He’s been out of the mix here for a little while," said Haley. "We’ve had some guys who are here and working and are finding their roles, so to speak. This is a little tougher week to do it. We’re not in pads but he’s going to have to come get in the mix, start competing, and like everybody else across the board, the guys that give us the best chance to win each and every week, those will be the guys helping us. He’s just trying to get back in the flow right now."
So did Saunders learn his lesson after being forced to sit out four weeks, five if you count the bye, for testing positive for the banned drug Adderall? You bet your aspirin he did. Saunders told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday, "I don\'t take any supplements, I don\'t even take Advil. If you asked me to look at the list of things -- excessive amounts of caffeine and stuff -- you\'re really not sure; if you\'re not sure, don\'t do it, so I don\'t take anything."
The only thing Saunders likely does want to take is the field and it sounds like it is still up in the air if it will be the field in Nashville Thursday night.