The Pittsburgh Steelers are obviously trying to send a message with the signing of linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and safety Will Allen to the roster this week, but that message is not the one several are trying to portray it as being.
The message is that they need healthy, experienced bodies that can play on special teams. Nothing more, nothing less.
In case you missed it, both linebacker Kion Wilson and safety Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith suffered injuries in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Wilson suffered a hamstring injury while Cromartie-Smith suffered a hip injury. Also, in case you missed it, both combined to play 144 snaps on special teams through the first four games of the season.
Had Sylvester not injured an ankle covering a punt in the preseason opener against the New York Giants, Wilson likely wouldn’t have even made the roster. Now that he’s back and healthy, the Steelers former fifth-round draft pick will fill Wilson’s special teams role and serve as the buck linebacker backup to rookie Vince Williams.
Like Sylvester, Allen is well versed in the Steelers defense and he too has built his career around being a special teams contributor. Allen also has long been a favorite of head coach Mike Tomlin. He was a capable fill in for safety Troy Polamalu last year when he was sidelined with his calf injury and that likely played a part in the decision to bring him back.
Believe or not, the Steelers still haven’t given up on the 2013 season. The stronger they can keep the bottom end of the roster right now, the better.
Will Sylvester and Allen stay on the roster the remainder of the season? It’s possible, but they are what they are and that is healthy bodies that can cover punts and kicks that won’t be lost should they have to play on defense. That’s the message.