Steelers TE Matt Spaeth to be evaluated this week

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Whether Spaeth can return this season will depend on his ability to get on the field and practice.

Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth has yet to make his debut for the Steelers after signing a free agent deal with the club that originally drafted him this offseason. He was placed on the IR-recall list at the start of the season, and has not yet been cleared to practice.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday Spaeth would be evaluated today to see if he could practice this week.

Upon practicing, the team would have three weeks to determine whether he would be activated, or placed on IR for the remainder of the year.

Pittsburgh travels to Cleveland in Week 12 to take on the Browns (4-6) 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Steelers are struggling in their running game, the blocking in particular. While they only allowed one sack in a recent win over the Detroit Lions, they rushed for just 40 yards - the fourth-lowest total in a winning effort in Steelers history.

Spaeth, one of the league's better blocking tight ends, was seen as a solution to that, and a stop-gap of sorts while TE Heath Miller worked his way back from a knee injury that ended his 2012 season in Week 16.

The Steelers have yet to see a return on that investment, and the injury of David Johnson earlier this season hasn't helped, either. Pittsburgh is among the worst rushing teams in football.

Whether Spaeth can change that may be a question not answered until next season.

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