Pittsburgh Steelers have two quality players heading to IR

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Karl Joseph (38) is driven off of the field during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Karl Joseph (38) is driven off of the field during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a pair of players they were hoping to get help from in the upcoming season, but here’s what their trips to IR mean for the team.

Steelers fans received some bad news on Tuesday when Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports reported that two of their players were headed to injured reserve. Apparently, the injuries to safety Karl Joseph (ankle) and wide receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) were deemed significant enough to be season-ending.

This is a tough blow to the team. Both Joseph and Miller were having strong training camps. They not only stood a great chance to stick around on the roster but also to carve out roles on their respective sides of the football this year.

Early in training camp, Miller was running with the first-team offense during Diontae Johnson’s hold-in, and he didn’t disappoint. Working both as the ‘Z’ receiver and from the slot, his quickness and ability to separate caught the eyes of the Steelers media.

Defensively, Karl Joseph looked to be firmly in the driver’s seat for the backup strong safety job behind Terrell Edmunds. In addition to potentially surpassing Miles Killebrew on the depth chart, Joseph also had the ability to see the field as an extra defensive back in dime packages.

Sadly, it looks like their journies with the Pittsburgh Steelers could end here. Both players were former high draft choices that didn’t really pan out with the teams that drafted them, but they were hungry for a shot at redemption. With Miller and Joseph already being in their late twenties, the clock could be kicking on their NFL careers after this massive setback.

Opportunity opens up for other Steelers on the roster bubble

It’s hard to spin a situation like this into a positive, and I really feel for both Anthony Miller and Karl Joseph. I wish them the best of luck in their recoveries and hope they will land back on their feet somewhere. If there is a positive takeaway from this, it’s that other players are going to get an opportunity in their absence.

Let’s start at the wide receiver position. Prior to Miller’s season-ending shoulder injury, it looked like Pittsburgh was going to have a remarkably difficult choice to make. In the past, this team has only kept five receivers on their roster. This means that there would have only been one helmet to go around between Gunner Olszewski, Anthony Miller, and Miles Boykin.

With Miller now on IR, this decision will become much easier for the team — especially if they are able to devote another roster spot to keep a sixth receiver (something they seem likely to do). If this is the case, the Steelers can keep both Olszewski and Boykin as the fifth and sixth receivers. Steven Sims now seems like the only other player who can make a case for a roster spot, but even with a strong performance in Week 1 of the preseason, he’s on the outside looking in.

At safety, Miles Killebrew is likely to hang onto his roster spot with Joseph out. While he hasn’t been great on defense, this gives them another quality special teams presence they can count on.

The Steelers will still likely have three backup safeties that they like in Damontae Kazee, Killebrew, and Tre Norwood. Norwood is a versatile defensive back who can also play slot cornerback in nickel and dime packages, so his flexibility is most welcome.

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With two preseason games still remaining, it will be interesting to see if a few players currently outside the roster bubble can make a push for a spot on the Steelers final 53-man roster. We hate to see quality players like Anthony Miller and Karl Joseph end up on IR, but hopefully, we will see some quality play in their place.