Back in early July I threw out the possibility of the Pittsburgh Steelers only carrying seven offensive linemen on their 53 man roster to start the regular season and now that we have seen the team play two preseason games, that very well could be a legitimate course of action should they not find a swing tackle on the waiver wire that meets their needs.
As stated earlier, Mike Tomlin generally likes to dress seven offensive linemen for games. Doing that of course would mean that one offensive lineman, should they keep eight, would be inactive on game days. Based on his play thus far in the preseason, Guy Whimper has no business making the roster and that was my initial thought on him the day he was signed. Besides, keeping Whimper after the final cut would mean the Steelers would have to guarantee his base salary for the season because he is a vested veteran.
Should the Steelers ultimately decide to carry both Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth on their 53 man roster to start the season, they will need to carry at least one extra tight end and maybe even two. In addition, should the injury suffered Monday night by running back Le\’Veon Bell wind up being serious enough to keep him sidelined for the start of the season, an extra running back might need to be carried as well. Those extra roster spots have to come at the expense of others.
Is it dangerous to carry only seven offensive linemen on the 53 man roster? Absolutely, as you run the risk of being one bad room service meal or a slip getting on the team bus away from only being able to dress six for a game, but it might be a risk that the team has to take until a few of the injured players return to full health.
The Steelers of course have a few more weeks until the final decision is made as to how many offensive linemen will be kept initially, and you can bet they have been scouting the rest of the teams during the preseason to see if a swing tackle worth a grain of salt might become available. The only problem with that is that they aren\’t the only team in the league doing that.