If you think about all the tight ends the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone through since fan favorite Heath Miller retired, it is quite the list.
The team drafted Jesse James, who remains on the roster, they added players like Ladarius Green, Xavier Grimble and now Vance McDonald. All in an attempt to find someone who could be the rock Miller was for the Steelers throughout his career.
Though they’ve tried, James is the only player who has been consistently available for the black-and-gold since Miller’s days at Heinz Field came to a close.
Coming into the 2018 season, it looked as if the Steelers’ tight end depth chart was essentially set. Jesse James, Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble. However, after McDonald went down with a foot injury the first week of training camp, and hasn’t returned since, Grimble now finds himself out of the lineup for the near future.
This per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:
Steelers TE Xavier Grimble underwent surgery to repair ligament in thumb/wrist area, per source. The hope is a Week 1 return but will be out a few weeks. Team already thin at TE with Vance McDonald nursing a foot injury.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 18, 2018
The surgery, combined with McDonald’s injury, severely handicaps the team’s depth for the final two weeks of the preseason. The team signed Bucky Hodges just over a week ago, and other than Pharoah McKever and Christian Scotland-Williamson, who has never played a game in the NFL as a former rugby player, the team might have to look for some tight end help sooner, rather than later.
While the Steelers going into a preseason game with James, McKever, Hodges and Scotland-Williamson doesn’t seem that bad, thinking of that being the depth for a regular season game is a recipe for disaster.
There is hope both Grimble and McDonald will return in time for the games that matter, but if they aren’t ready there is a good chance the talk about a tight end focused offense would go on the back burner until the depth returns at the position.