The Pittsburgh Steelers activated tight end David Johnson from the PUP list on Wednesday, and he is hoping to play Saturday night when the team faces the Kansas City Chiefs in their third preseason game of the season. With Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth both likely to be sidelined for the start of the regular season, the Arkansas State product will now be battling Jamie McCoy and Michael Palmer for one of two spots on the final 53 man roster.
It\’s hard to imagine the Steelers would carry less than three healthy tight ends on their 53 man roster to start the season, and we already know that one of those spots will go to David Paulson. While he\’s far from a lock, Palmer has played fine since being claimed off waivers a few weeks ago. McCoy saw his first action of the preseason Monday against the Washington Redskins, but really didn\’t set the world on fire. While he did catch two passes in the game, he dropped two others that were thrown his way.
David Johnson of course hasn\’t played since he injured his knee over a year ago, but he apparently is now a little leaner than he was last year.
“It kind of just happened from rehabbing so much every day and working out,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his weight loss. “I just leaned up like this. I wasn\’t purposely trying to lose weight. I was watching what I was eating and working out every day. This is how I ended up.”
The Steelers hope Johnson ends up being the best in-line blocker of the bunch so that he can help absorb the loss of both Miller and Spaeth until they are ready to play. In addition to playing tight end, he would likely be the best choice to back up starting fullback Will Johnson as well. The two had a great training camp battle going last year until the Steelers former seventh-round draft went down for the season.
The third preseason game is normally used as a dress rehearsal for the season opener, so we might get a few clues as to who is where in the pecking order Saturday night. More importantly, however, David Johnson needs to show he is healthy in his return to the field, and it sounds like he\’s ready to do just that.
“I am confident,” said Johnson. “I am excited to get back out here. I know if I focus on getting out here and playing and doing what I need to do, everything will be all right. I feel great.”