As fans wait for official word from the Pittsburgh Steelers on the serious injury to David DeCastro suffered in the first quarter if last nights impressive victory over the Buffalo Bills, some players are preparing to pack their bags as the first rounds of cuts are ahead.
As of now, it appears that one-time or projected starters Casey Hampton, Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison, Ryan Clark and potentially Brett Keisel will either miss or be listed as questionable at best going into the opener. That is five roster spots that will be a loss from the opening day 53 and in some cases (Mendenhall and Hampton) may not be ready until deeper in the season. This could cause the team to be somewhat creative early in the season with their roster management.
It is hard to imagine the team not carrying one extra running back, linebacker and defensive lineman early on, but that would put that number above what the team kept in 2011. At that point, they would have to decide where to trim the numbers at to accomplish that. Right now, with all the injuries, there is no good choice.
One position that should have been settled last night was punter, where Drew Butler put on a solid display of his skills. In all he punted eight times for a 49.3 yards-per-punt average while keeping three inside the 20. Was the former All-American perfect? No, but he has demonstrated he has the ability to handle the load for the long haul. With Jeremy Kapinos still battling a back injury, the team may give him another few days to try to battle back in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, or they could waive him injured.
No matter what, it definitely appears that this is Butler’s job to lose and the team should just make that decision during the first round of cuts and waive Kapinos. With limited roster flexibility early in the season, they need all the time possible to craft an effective depth-laden 53-man roster for the season opener and splitting hairs over a kicker or punter is unnecessary.
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