To the surprise of many in Steelers Nation, back up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski opened Steelers training camp on the PUP list. The move keeps Gradkowski from practicing and allowed the Steelers to use his roster spot with someone else.
- The Steelers also would have been able to keep Gradkowski on the PUP until the middle of the season, and then activate him.
It is not something that happens often, but the Steelers did just that with Heath Miller in 2013. Miller of course tore his ACL at the end of the 2012 season, and was kept on the Steelers PUP list, until being activated before the debacle in London.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 16, 2015
In his absences, the Steelers have been giving most of Gradkowski’s reps to Landry Jones. Landry Jones entered training camp with a target on his back, showed improvement during practice, but reviews of his performance in the Steelers Hall of Fame Game loss to the Minnesota Vikings and their preseason loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars have been mixed at best.
- While Landry Jones HAS improved from previous outings, he clearly hasn’t show himself as a viable number 2 NFL quarterback.
In contrast, Gradkowski fits that mold perfectly, following in the footsteps of Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich who have held distinction of “QB Number 2” for much of Kevin Colbert’s tenure as Steelers General Manager.
Gradkowski has been nursing an ailing shoulder, although reports indicate that he began throwing on his own while at St. Vincent’s. However, Ed Bouchette reported on video following the Jaguars game that the Steelers weren’t looking to activate Gradkowski until the 4th preseason game.
- Perhaps Bouchette was mistaken or perhaps Jones’ struggles have forced the Steelers hand.
Three summers ago both Isaac Redman and Johnathan Dwyer were nursing injuries in mid August prompting the Steelers to activate Rashard Mendenhall ahead of schedule (although Mendenhall did not play until after the first month of the season.)
Although Gradkowski has never thrown a regular season pass for the Steelers, did briefly relieve Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers playoff loss to the Ravens, and completed 2-3 passes and looked quite sharp doing it.