The Pittsburgh Steelers chose to keep five tight ends on their initial 53 man roster with Michael Palmer serving as the unexpected keeper.
The decision to keep Palmer, however, could have several reasons associated with it.
First, even though tight end Heath Miller was activated from the PUP list, it is clear that he will not be ready to play for a few weeks. In fact, I would be surprised if he played before the bye week.
In addition to Miller, Matt Spaeth is still recovering from his Lisfranc injury and could quite possibly be headed to the injured reserve list with the designated to return tag next week. Regardless of whether he stays on the active roster or not, he will be out of action for several more weeks.
In addition to those two reasons, the hamstring injury suffered Thursday night by fullback Will Johnson very well could have played a big role in the decision to keep Palmer. Should Will Johnson miss a game or two with his injury, tight end David Johnson would then be forced to fill in at fullback and that would leave David Paulson as the only healthy tight end on the roster.
Kelvin Beachum played some tight end during the preseason, but the Steelers obviously don’t want to use him in that capacity unless there is an emergency.
Palmer, who was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks during training camp, only has three accrued seasons in the league, so his 2013 salary will not be guaranteed. He can be released without issue when Miller is ready to play.
If I had to bet, the injury suffered Thursday night by Will Johnson perhaps cost a linebacker a spot on the 53 man roster.