Injury To RB Le\’Veon Bell Puts Yet Another Strain On Final 53 Man Roster

The injury suffered by Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le\’Veon Bell Monday night in the second preseason game against the Washington Redskins will now present yet another dilemma for the team come the time to trim the roster down to 53 players in a few more weeks.

If the early reports wind up being correct, Bell will miss at least the next six weeks and possibly more with a torn ligament in his right foot. Should the team think there\’s a good chance that he will be ready following the bye week, then they are unlikely to put their second-round draft pick on the injured reserve list with the designated to return tag. Instead, they will carry him on the 53 man roster until he is ready to play. Remember, Bell is not eligible for the Reserve PUP list because he was not on the Active PUP list at the beginning of training camp. They only have the two choices I stated above in regard to his status come the start of the regular season.

As far as tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth go, it all depends on what you read right now from the local beat writers and national media. The general speculation on Miller is that he will be removed from the Active PUP list prior to the start of the regular season and carried on the 53 man roster until he is ready to play. The Steelers did the same thing last season with running back Rashard Mendenhall. With Spaeth, he\’s not eligible for the Reserve PUP list either and many believe that he will also be carried on the 53 man roster until he\’s ready to play.

Tight end David Johnson was removed from the Active PUP list on Wednesday, so either he makes the 53 man roster or is cut. His status will be determined based on how well he plays in the final two preseason games. Cross your fingers he plays well, because the Steelers really could use him as both an in-line tight end and backup to Will Johnson at fullback.

So what about linebacker Sean Spence? That decision is the easiest one the Steelers have right now. Being as he is currently on Active PUP and not ready to return, he will simply be moved to the Reserve PUP list in a few more weeks. At that point, they will then have a 9-12 week window to work with as it relates to him. He must miss the first six weeks of the season, but must begin practicing by the end of week 9. Once he begins practicing, the Steelers will then have another three weeks from that point forward until they must either place him on their 53 man roster or on injured reserve.

As you can clearly see there remains a strong possibility that three injured players will have to be carried on the 53 man roster to start the regular season. In doing so, the Steelers will likely need to short themselves at other positions in order to carry their replacements. So essentially they will be looking to build a 50 man roster if all the above holds true. Keep in mind they can only dress 46 players for each game.

Last season, the Steelers had somewhat of a similar problem as they carried Mendenhall, James Harrison and Stevenson Sylvester on their 53 man roster. In addition, safety Ryan Clark had to be inactive for the season opener in Denver because of his sickle-cell trait that prevented him from playing in the high altitude.

This too shall pass this year, but I can only imagine what those final few meetings will be like following the last preseason game. Just pray nobody else goes down before the start of the regular season as these decisions will be hard enough to make as it is.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason

    At this point you have to think about playing strictly backups for the remainder of the preseason. I know this won’t happen and I’m half joking but I wouldn’t complain at this point if they did it.

  • NW86

    I’m not too worried about it quite yet – as mentioned above, they did it last season, and at any given time during the season, they are usually carrying about 3 guys who are injured anyway. But the starters haven’t even played a full half yet in the preseason. The really tough part will be if another starter gets a 3-6 week type injury this weekend, when they see their most extensive action of the preseason. Let’s all cross our fingers together!

  • TJimmy

    Before every game and at other times NFL teams often pray for health and no injuries. For some reason the Steelers have been plagued with injuries the last 3 years. I have often thought there are spiritual issues with the team and if so I hope they get resolved soon.

  • steeltown

    Well.. you have to do what you have to do in hopes of getting guys back at some point on the road to the playoffs, which is the goal every year.

    So, lets think about it, I have a feeling we’ll again carry 5Safeties now that Cromartie-Smith seems to have turned the proverbial corner. I think we have no choice but to carry only 5WRs at this point and then I would guess maybe only 6DL which sucks being that N.Williams and Arnfelt have impressed thus far. What helps (ironically) THIS year with the lack of OL depth is that we will most likely only carry 8 and possibly even 7OL instead of 9OL like we normally do, so in the end we’ll have some extra spots to hold these injured players, but it might be at the expense of a young promising player like Arnfelt or Dunn

    Two preseason games left, plenty of time for some guys to rise to the occasion.. and also time for some to fall

  • Jason

    Well put

  • JohnnyV1

    They cannot put Spaeth on the active roster for 6-8 weeks, not for a blocking tight end. For Health Miller, or another player of that caliber, yes, but for Spaeth, no. Then you have Bell and Miller on the active roster who cannot play for a month or so.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    You would think Spaeth could end up on the “IR to return” list. I know we only get 1 guy for that list, but I’m not sure you can float a good roster everywhere else by carrying 5 TEs. I think they need to put the roster together like it was week 2. What would they do if we entered the year with Heath and Spaeth healthy and they both got hurt week 2. What would they do? Would they try to carry them for the rest of the year? Both of them? I will be doing a roster today at some point, so I may post my own opinions then.

  • Kevin Artis

    Why are we holding a spot for Spaeth? If he is that valuable we are in trouble.

  • paltel

    Spiritual issues?

  • philipag

    Yes, they are haunted by injuries.

  • paltel

    Phewww… Im glad the Rooney’s weren’t in the confessional being given multiple hail marys as I don’t think Halley has that in the playbook.

  • steeltown

    Im pretty sure Le’Veon will be the IR with designation guy this year, like DeCastro last year

  • philipag

    No, but we got the Immaculate Reception way in the back there somewhere.

  • RW

    Is there a limit to the number of players you can put on the reserve PUP?

  • steeltown

    I would think god or whatever supreme being has more important things to do then worry over health of major sports athletes

  • RW

    I know this is addressed in another feed, but 7OL seems like a huge risk to me given what’s happened in games in years’ past. If 3 OL go down in one game, one of the TEs will need to be super versatile.

  • steeltown

    I don’t think players who have participated in any practice can go on the PUP list

  • RW

    More of a curse if you ask me. Don’t know what could have triggered it (not the way the red sox did with ruth, anyway). Just seems like we’ve had significant and substantial injuries since our last super bowl. Maybe Kurt Warner is having Todd Haley sabotage the team for what James Harrison did to him.

  • RW

    Right, but could all 3 of spence, spaeth and miller be on reserve PUP at one time? I thought there was a limit.

  • steeltown

    Very true.. but it seems in recent history that they only dress 7OL on gameday regardless.. the 8th OL on the 53man comes into play say if someone gets sick before the game or some other freak accident occurs before the lineups are set.
    But yes, 3injuries in one game and you’re screwed, Heath Miller and Spaeths blocking ability cannot be overlooked for this exact reason. I would assume at this point Will Johnson or D.Johnson would be used in emergency (or maybe Greg Warren?)

  • steeltown

    I think so, but Spaeth has practiced he’s not a candidate for PUP, I think only IR, IR with designation or 53man roster for him

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I don’t think he will be out long enough for that…He is only going to miss 4 games. Spaeth is missing half a season. Isn’t there some restriction about when the player can come back, like he has to be out a certain number of weeks.

  • RW

    I see. Well hopefully only Spence needs it anyway.

  • RW

    Good point – forgot all about Greg Warren. He’s been with us for so long they have to have at least prepared him for some basic offensive plays.

  • RW

    Good point. I think that he’s the only TE outside of Heath that can block at a high level. Thought his pass catching abilities would be better coming out of college with the accolades he had, but he’s average in that regard. My hope is that David Johnson puts on a show. He’s a good blocker and pass catcher and we need someone more dynamic than the TEs who are healthy now.

  • steeltown

    Yes, but im not assuming Le’Veon will be out 6weeks just yet like the ‘sources’ are reporting, he’s a running back and this is a Foot injury (torn ligament) we’ll be lucky if he’s healthy enough to run and make cuts by 8 weeks IMO

    Lets see what Tomlin says at the press conference today

  • steeltown

    You would think, for emergency

  • Soliciting Steelers

    In reality, this should only mean we need to sacrifice 1 roster spot.
    We are still going to carry 4 RBs (Redman, Dwyer, Bell, LSH) with Bell
    inactive, thus, we carry 4 TEs (Miller, Spaeth, Paulson, DJ hopefully)
    with Will Johnson as emergency…if we put Spaeth on IR Desigantion (I
    think so) we should be back to normal…Now, let’s all get back to
    worrying about the OL ;)

  • cencalsteeler

    You make a valid point. We brought in Spaeth for his blocking skills and to man the fort until Miller is back. Now, it looks as though Miller may make it back before Spaeth. DJ is serviceable enough until Miller returns, so holding a spot for Spaeth doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’d rather invest that spot on our future (Arnfeldt , N.Williams,etc.) than hold a band aid spot for Spaeth.

  • steeltown

    YOU make a valid point, if D.Johnson looks good over the next few weeks maybe putting Spaeth on IR and letting him heal up for next year isn’t such a bad idea. He was brought in to help fortify the position in Millers absence and now HE will be absent.

    We’ll have Paulson, D.Johnson (and Will Johnson) till Miller returns AND possibly Palmer or McCoy on roster till Heath is actually active.. in the end having a FB like Will Johnson who can seemingly play TE should help in the decision making

  • Soliciting Steelers

    In reality, this should only mean we need to sacrifice 1 roster spot.
    We are still going to carry 4 RBs (Redman, Dwyer, Bell, LSH) with Bell
    inactive, thus, we carry 4 TEs (Miller, Spaeth, Paulson, DJ hopefully)
    with Will Johnson as emergency…if we put Spaeth on IR Desigantion (I
    think so) we should be back to normal…Now, let’s all get back to
    worrying about the OL ;)

  • RW

    Here here!

  • Soliciting Steelers

    Agree with everything but the 5 safeties :) I think if you have Gay, that Lake says can play safety in a pinch, and both Shamarko and Golden who can play a little bit of corner, I think we could get by with 5 CBs and 4 Safeties..I like Cromartie-Smith but we don’t need him and may need the spot for the injuried or Reggie Dunn as a specialist. Everything else you said is good…we could open up 2 spots by only rolling only with 7 OL and 9 DBs!!! Its doable…

  • Soliciting Steelers

    Also, I think if you have Gay, that Lake says can play safety in a pinch,
    and both Shamarko and Golden who can play a little bit of corner, I
    think we could get by with 5 CBs and 4 Safeties..I like Cromartie-Smith
    but we don’t need him and may need the spot for the injuried or Reggie
    Dunn as a specialist. We could open
    up 2 spots by only rolling with 7 OL and 9 DBs!!! Its doable…

  • steeltown

    Normally I would agree, but DCSMith has been impressive, tied for 2nd on the Team in preseason tackles I think and of course has 1 of the 2 INT’s. He’s been playing 2nd Team Defense so far in preseason.. and Golden has only looked avg. guess we’ll see

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Good Gawwdd!!! Please, be quiet.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Some players need to be straight up cut. Spaeth needs to be IR’ed. How productive will he be if/when he even makes it back? Everyone says and understands that football is a”business” well its obvious that business decisions need to be made. We simply can’t carry Spaeth on the 53 and forego the future of a young promising player (Arnfelt, N. Williams, insert fav WR name, etc.)It seems that the organization is in conflict with itself in terms of philosophical approach and players that are needed to accomplish that.

  • cencalsteeler

    Yes, and the fact that DJ has that multiple position card in his back pocket makes him even that much more valuable to the team. But, of course his play the next two weeks will be the deciding factor.

  • steeltown

    Seems we may have been duped haha

    I thought there was a tear in the ligament it seems as though its really just a bad sprain

  • Luke Shabro

    Yeah. Rappers careers aren’t going to launch themselves :p

  • Luke Shabro

    I would normally agree with you but the backups outside of Malecky and Beachum are beyond awful. If I put Golic Jr., Joe Long or the other kid who replaced Cheadle (his name is escaping me). No one is going to pluck those guys from the PS. Tomlin typically dresses 7 OL anyways so you’re running that risk already.