Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest posted Tuesday on Twitter that while the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely place veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress on injured reserve at some point following his Monday surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff suffered late last week in practice; he doesn\’t believe that injured tight end Matt Spaeth will be placed on the list with him.
Spaith, who suffered a Lisfranc injury during practice last week, has already had his surgery and while the team will not comment on when they think he might be able to return to action; the consensus is that his rehab could take up to ten weeks.
Should the Steelers indeed not place Spaeth on the injured reserve list with the designated for return tag to start the season, it will mean they will have to carry him on their 53 man roster. In addition to possibly carrying Spaeth on the roster to start the season, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote Tuesday that he thinks tight end Heath Miller might not be placed on the Reserve PUP list to start the season as well. Should that wind up being the course of action, the Steelers would then have two tight ends that are rehabbing injuries on their 53 man roster to start the season.
The downside to doing that would be that the team would more than likely have to carry a total of five tight ends on their 53 man roster to start the season. Carrying two extra tight ends would come at the expense of other positions, and you would have to figure that one of those positions would be linebacker with the other possibly being defensive line, running back or defensive back.
They could possibly get away with carrying only four tight ends instead of five, but that would put them one more tight end injury during a game away from not being able to do what they want to do offensively, as it appears as though we can expect more two tight end personnel groupings this season in an effort to run the football better.
In addition to all the above, Dulac says the Steelers have no interest in signing a veteran tight end between now and the start of the season. When you think about it, it makes sense as a vested veteran would have his entire 2013 salary guaranteed if he is on the roster for the first week of the season. The Steelers did claim tight end Michael Palmer off waivers last week from the Seattle Seahawks, but being as he only has three years of experience to his credit, his 2013 salary will not be guarantied should he wind up making the final 53 man roster. In other words, he could be released without being a salary cap liability whenever Miller or Spaeth are ready to return to action.
The good thing right now about this situation is the fact that the Steelers have several more weeks to go before they have to make a final decision on both Miller and Spaeth. If the doctors feel like both will be ready for the Week 6 game against the New York Jets following the bye, they very well might carry both on the 53 man roster until then. If one or both are ready to return before then, even better.
In the meantime, the Steelers will continue to try to develop Palmer and Jamie McCoy while watching the waiver wire closely to see if they can upgrade the position even more by claiming yet another unvested tight end.