With David Johnson recently putting himself out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury and newly acquired Richard Gordon failing to escape even a single practice unscathed, there should be a clear path for the Pittsburgh Steelers to reintroduce Matt Spaeth into the tight end mix.
That is, provided that he is ready to go. Although he was eligible to begin practicing this past week, I have not seen or read any reports of him even being scheduled to return to practice, unlike Sean Spence, though the two are on different inactive lists.
All reports prior to this week have been positive with regards to Spaeth’s recovery from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury that he suffered early in training camp. Spaeth himself reported that he has been off crutches since early September, while others have noted him being out of a boot and not displaying a limp getting around.
Still, with him not practicing yet, it is unclear where he is with respect to making his way back to the field. More specifically, it is uncertain whether or not Spaeth is on pace to return to the field as soon as he is eligible to do so, which would be for the November 3rd matchup against the New England Patriots.
What is certain is that the Steelers could use his veteran presence and blocking ability now that David Johnson is out of the picture, who himself was just playing his way back into form and was coming off one of his best games before injuring his wrist last week early in the game against the New York Jets.
Gordon was a street free agent after having been released during the cutdown period, and had not been picked up by any team in the interim. Perhaps he was not in the best shape, because he sustained a toe injury in his first practice and has already been ruled out for the Baltimore Ravens game.
Still, he was unlikely to contribute significantly on offense anyway, if he were to even dress, due to his unfamiliarity with the offense.
Michael Palmer was claimed off waivers during training camp before the first preseason game and was retained due to his special teams play despite having a more accomplished offensive resume than Gordon, and he still hardly sees any time on offense.
The Steelers are hoping that they will only have to make do without Spaeth for just two more weeks as they look to replace Johnson’s production primarily with David Paulson, supplemented some by Palmer and fullback Will Johnson. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has taken a liking to moving Will Johnson around more as an h-back recently anyway.
Nevertheless, if Spaeth is not back to practicing following the Ravens game, it may be cause for concern. It would likely mean that the Steelers are either being very cautious about his recovery or that they may need to begin planning on being without him for an extra week or more.