The 2020 NFL season is now three weeks down and some of the new features for this season are starting to become more second nature. One of the things that is different in the NFL than in years past is the expanded 16-man practice squad roster which can include up to six veteran players. Another feature of the practice squad is two players can be elevated each week to the game-day roster without having to replace someone else who is already on the 53. Because of this, teams are able to protect four players every week who cannot be signed by other teams until after their upcoming match up. Even though the status of Sunday’s game is somewhat uncertain, the Steelers are progressing with their normal activities until they are informed otherwise.
This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
This week's 4 players the Steelers have designated to be protected on the practice squad: WR Deon Cain, RBs Wendell Smallwood & Trey Edmunds and DE Henry Mondeaux.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 29, 2020
Defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux and running back Wendell Smallwood are now on their fourth week of being one of the Steelers protected players. Wide receiver Deon Cain is on the list yet again this week which is no surprise considering the Steelers wide receiver situation.
Because Pittsburgh has only kept five wide receivers on their roster this season, an injury could mean an elevation from someone from the practice squad. Last week, JuJu Smith-Schuster was in question as he did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. For this week, Diontae Johnson is in the concussion protocol so his status for Sunday it’s completely up in the air at this time.
The new addition to the protected practice squad list is running back Trey Edmunds. The reason this edition is quite interesting is because the Steelers look to be without fullback Derek Watt if their game is played on schedule in Week 4. Last season, when the Steelers were without fullback Roosevelt Nix, Edmunds filled in on the rare occasion the Steelers used a fullback in the offense.
It will be interesting to see if the Steelers elevate a player from the practice squad for the first time in 2020. While there are a number of players who have been inactive each week who would be the backups depending on injuries at certain positions, there are other positions such as wide receiver or fullback where the Steelers could choose to elevate one of their protected players. Additionally, the Steelers could elevate someone who they didn’t protect if circumstances change throughout the week.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 4 game in Tennessee.