I was really looking forward to seeing Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke play this preseason, but a hamstring injury has prevented that from happening thus far. Although he wasn\’t officially ruled Saturday morning by head coach Mike Tomlin for the Monday night game against the Washington Redskins, it\’s not looking like Miami product will be in uniform for the second preseason game.
It\’s been 19 days since Van Dyke suffered his injury during practice, and it makes you wonder why he is still on the roster at this point. It would be one thing if the Steelers had a healthy group of cornerbacks during that span of time, but they didn\’t. When they added a few cornerbacks to roster to fill the injury void at the position, they chose to waive players from other positions instead of cutting loose Van Dyke.
Prior to last season getting underway, the Steelers claimed Van Dyke off of waivers from the Oakland Raiders and Tomlin talked about the reason for the move.
“We were interested in this young man when he came out in the draft in 2011,” said Tomlin. ” Obviously, we ended up with Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, but he was within that group and in that range from a grading standpoint. I was at his pro day. He’s got big-time upside, he’s an extremely fast guy. It was an opportunity for us to put a young cornerback in the mix and continue to work with him and develop his skill and see if maybe he can help us at some point.”
So does Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers coaching still believe that “some point” is still possible with Van Dyke? Is there a possibility that he is kept as either the fifth or even a sixth cornerback this year? Remember, Van Dyke is no longer eligible for the practice squad due to the amount of games he played for the Raiders as a rookie.
Van Dyke has two qualities that are coveted in NFL cornerbacks and that\’s size and speed. However, neither of those qualities help the Steelers if he can\’t get on the field to use them.
Last season Van Dyke made Tomlin look smart in the first two regular season games as the Raiders former third-round draft pick contributed on special teams as a gunner. Unfortunately, Van Dyke wasn\’t smart himself over the course of the next four games, and he found himself on the game-day inactive list for several weeks after registering five special teams penalties during that span of four games.
Should Van Dyke be able to get back on the practice field early next week he will have a good shot at playing in the final two preseason games. However, should he wind up missing the third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs; he will only have a short amount of time left to display that big-time upside that Tomlin talked about nearly a full year ago.