Mandatory Credit: Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Spaeth was supposed to provide the Steelers with some insurance at the tight end position while Heath Miller was on the mend from the knee injury he suffered in Week 16 of last season. Although Spaeth was not thought to replace Miller in a pass-catching sense, his blocking ability plus his rapport and familiarity with Ben Roethlisberger were definite pluses.
Unfortunately for Spaeth and Pittsburgh’s offense, he sustained a foot injury during training camp. Unlike Le’Veon Bell though, who also suffered a foot injury before the regular season began, Spaeth’s injury forced the Steelers to place the veteran tight end on the injured reserve/designated to return list.
Spaeth however has yet to “return” to the lineup, let alone practiced with the team this year. In fact, even Sean Spence has returned to practice before the tight end according to Pittsburgh’s official twitter account:
With seven games left to go during the regular season and no updates on the status of Spaeth and his return, one has to wonder the following:
Will he suit up for the Steelers this season? If so, will Pittsburgh’s offense need him to do so?
At this point, the Steelers might be better off keeping their veteran tight end sidelined and waiting until the regular season ends.
Although the stopgaps who have been pressed into duty have either under-performed, underwhelmed, or simply been injured during the team’s 3-6 start, Mike Adams has done a fine job in recent weeks as the team’s “extra tackle” on the end of the line of scrimmage in running situations. Plus, Heath Miller appears to be nearing 100% each and every week he is on the field as well.
Pittsburgh’s offense has also done a much better job and been much more effective in “11” personnel packages anyway this year. Jerricho Cotchery has stepped up as the team’s number three wide receiver while Bell and Felix Jones have displayed the ability to help in the passing game as well.
I for one will be intrigued to see what the Steelers’ brass ultimately decides to do with Spaeth down the stretch, but the clock is ticking on how much of an impact that he will make during the 2013 regular season.
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