Elvis is in the building! The Pittsburgh Steelers had a new participant at practice yesterday, none other than Ladarius Green according to Chris Adamanski of the Tribune Review. The Steelers of course responded to Heath Miller’s retirement by signing Green, hoping that Green’s vertical big play ability could make up for Heath Miller’s legendary dependability.
- The move made sense, as it allowed the Steelers to focus on the secondary in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Then things got wired, as Green sat out mini-camp, OTA’s and all of training camp. Green had had surgery following the 2015 season, but word leaked that he was also in the NFL’s concussion protocols. The Steelers never confirmed that later bit of news, but various reporters did, although there were conflicting reports.
- Some reporters even speculated that the Steelers might try to recoup Ladarius Green’s signing bonus.
So the Steelers placed Ladarius Green on the PUP list and the wait began.
An End to Tight End by Committee?
In Ldarius Green’s absence, the Steelers turned to a “Tight end by committee” approach, relying on Jesse James, David Johnson and Xavier Grimble. Each of the three had their moments, but none of them provided the dynamic spark the Steelers hopped to get with Green.
According to Adamanski, Green had a good practice, catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones an Zach Mettenberger. Adamanski quoted Sean Davis as confirming that Green had a good day of practice, including making a touchdown catch.
For Whom the Turk Visits?
It is unknown whether or when the Steelers will activate Ladarius Green. The sight of Ladarius Green practicing is a positive one, but three seasons ago Sean Spence returned from the PUP only to reinjure himself.
- Should the Steelers activate Ladarius Green, they will have to make a roster move to create space for him.
Jesse James figures to be safe, but if Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert intend on keeping only 3 tight ends then either David Johnson or Xavier Grimble could be in trouble. As a vested vetran, Johnson would be owed his full salary for the season, and he is the team’s best blocking tight end who can also serve as a fullback. Xavier Grimble has far more “upside” at this stage of his career, but the Steelers might not be able to sneak him back on the practice squad.
Cobi Hamilton, the rookie wide receiver would also be a candidate to go, but there’s no assurance the Steelers would be able to get him back onto their practice squad.
- Of course, with the way the injury bug has hit the Steelers, circumstances could end up making the decision for him.
The Steelers now have 21 days to make a decision on activating Ladarius Green, or placing him on injured reserve for the season. They could activate him for either their game against the Ravens or the Cowboys but would need to pull the trigger after that.