Plaxico Burress tryout with Steelers the result of a decision made in September

Jamie Squire

The Steelers chose to go with four receivers on their active roster at the start of this season, risking having to bring in a receiver later in the season if injuries should occur. They've hit now, and the Steelers have to give Plaxico Burress a look.

The Steelers set themselves up for the lack of depth they're now facing at wide receiver.

The question is how much choice did they really have?

The Steelers were linked to wide receiver Plaxico Burress this offseason, largely due to what was felt to be a lack of depth in their receiving corps. Not from a talent perspective, but simply having game-ready receivers in case of injury.

In September, their final roster cuts included all of their young receivers - David Gilreath and Toney Clemons in particular. They chose to keep six running backs, including the injured Rashard Mendenhall (as opposed to placing him on injured reserve), in lieu of a fifth wide receiver.

Starting the year with Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery made sense at the time - no other wide receiver would see the field with talented pass-catching tight end Heath Miller and rookie Chris Rainey available for a fifth receiving option in several packages. The running back position was much less stable. Mendenhall was still weeks away from active participation and the lack of experience with Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Rainey made the decision fairly obvious.

But it was always a risk. Brown suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 9, and hasn't played since the first half of that game. He isn't expected to play Sunday against Cleveland. Cotchery suffered a rib injury at the end of the Steelers' 13-10 loss to Baltimore after being on the business end of a savage hit by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.

Just Wallace and Sanders remain from their original depth chart.

Gilreath was signed from the practice squad to replace Brown, and got a carry but no catches against the Ravens.

With the Steelers bringing Burress in for a tryout, it's reasonable to assume Clemons isn't the best option for activation in Week 12.

If Burress is that option, it'll be an expensive one. Even signing a deferred veteran minimum contract will hit the Steelers' salary cap hard, particularly when they also need to sign a quarterback to back up Charlie Batch in Week 12 - maybe longer.

The extent of Cotchery's injury will likely be revealed during Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's press conference at noon ET Tuesday. Any announcement about the team's signing of a new quarterback and wide receiver shouldn't come much later than that.

So, how long will the Band-Aid hold?


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