Head coach Mike Tomlin was finally back behind the microphone yesterday after getting a week off due to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bye week, and, as usual, he said a lot of words without getting across a whole lot of information, by design. But the injury report, when not cryptic, was generally illuminating, and it probably should not be ignored that veteran reserve offensive lineman Cody Wallace is still not practicing.
Even tight end Ladarius Green, who has been on the Physically Unable to Perform List for eight weeks now, including the bye week, returned to practice last week, and is now in his second week of practicing, though this week’s body of work is intended to be substantially more intense than the limited activity that they went through during the week off.
At this point, it almost seems as though there is a race between the two to get back onto the field, and if Green is able to get there first, it may cost Wallace his roster spot. If Green gets healthy, there is no question that he will be activated. The same cannot be said for Wallace, in spite of the fact that he started 18 games last season, including the playoffs.
Wallace, who will be turning 32 later this month, is in his fourth season with the Steelers after being a fourth-round draft pick in 2008, but his only substantial playing time has come in Pittsburgh. He started six games in his first two seasons prior to being required to fill in all year for Maurkice Pouncey at center.
But the Steelers may not require him to fill in as a result of an injury anymore with the emergence of young reserves B.J. Finney, who played better at guard in his lone start that Wallace ever has, yet is a natural center, and Chris Hubbard, who has earned his keep starting three games at tackle, but has spent most of his professional career at guard, and expanded to some work at center as well.
At it currently stands, Wallace is just wasting a roster spot, and when the Steelers needed a roster spot, they didn’t hesitate to dump Senquez Golson to the reserve list. Before you comment on this remark, I’m aware that it’s not a seamless comparison, given that Golson has never even played a snap in a preseason game.
But Wallace has been sidelined for months now after suffering what was originally called a hyperextended knee. He already had to get the knee cleaned up a couple of weeks later. Even after the bye week, he is still not practicing, and that seems like a big deal.
They have already gotten along this far without him. Meanwhile, the young tight ends on the roster are contributing, and would contribute even more effectively if they were in their proper positions in the pecking order. If Green is ready to go and Wallace is not, I think it makes a lot of sense to move him to injured reserve and keep the tight end group intact.