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Steelers start the 21-day window for Calvin Austin III

The Steelers fourth-round draft pick returned to practice on Wednesday.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter their week of preparation for Week 5 while dealing with a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. With 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt still on the Reserve/Injured List (IR), and with a number of other injuries keeping players either limited or sideline in practice, the Steelers offense is actually getting more healthy as they prepare to face the Buffalo Bills.

After spending the required minimum of four games on IR, rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III has returned to practice and begun the 21-day window in which he must be placed back on the Steelers 53-man roster. This per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Calvin Austin III was the Steelers fourth-round draft pick at selection 138 of the 2022 NFL draft. Coming out of Memphis, Austin dazzled spectators in Latrobe at Steelers training camp with his quickness and burst as he had several big plays in the time he had on the field. But during a closed practice on August 12, the day before the Steelers first preseason game, Austin apparently suffered a significant foot injury which held him out of all three of the Steelers preseason games and landed him on IR after the mandatory time of being on the roster in order to be eligible to return.

With Austin returning to practice, the Steelers will have until October 25 to officially place him on the 53-man roster or else he will remain on IR for the remainder of the 2022 season. So even though Austin has returned to practice, he could still miss as many as the next three games if the Steelers deem he would not be ready to participate.

The Steelers also have an interesting strategy move by bringing Austin back at this time. Gaining three extra weeks before he must be placed on the 53-man roster could be beneficial if Austin we’re not going to be highly utilized or even active on game day. The fourth-round rookie would gain valuable practice time while the Steelers do not have to make a corresponding roster moves in order to fit Austin on the 53.

If the Steelers deem Austin to be ready and wish to utilize him as early as this week in Buffalo, he would need to be added to the roster by 4 PM this Saturday. What will be interesting would be the Steelers corresponding roster move as the team already has six wide receivers on the 53-man roster. Calvin Austin would be returning to a wide receiver room which already has the following players:

  • Diontae Johnson
  • Chase Claypool
  • George Pickens
  • Miles Boykin
  • Gunner Olszewski
  • Steven Sims

So far in 2022, Steven Sims has been on the inactive list each week. But with Gunner Olszewski fumbling his second punt of the season in only four games, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made known his displeasure in his weekly press conference and even stated how they will be looking at other options this week.

“So, we’ve got some work there this week and some decisions to make and he’s got to get us to a level of comfort,” Tomlin stated in regards to Olszewski. “And we’ll look at some other options as well.”

Whether or not Calvin Austin can get into the mix as a returner as soon as he returns to practice in his rookie season remains to be seen. But with Steven Sims also in the mix to take over return duties, it would be interesting to see if the Steelers add a seventh wide receiver to their roster or have to release a player who has been in the room for all of the 2022 season.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers begin their preparation to face the Bills this Sunday in Buffalo.