The Pittsburgh Steelers had a decision to make, and they decided to put second year outside linebacker Bud Dupree on the injured reserve list to at least start the 2016 season. With Dupree's season delayed at least 8 games, the next logical question is who will fill the void left at the left outside linebacker position?
The answer might not be as clear cut as you may think.
While most fans will point to Arthur Moats as the man who will fulfill the Steelers' "next man up" philosophy, the team's edge rushers might be more of a committee than one person taking over the job. It isn't that Moats isn't capable, but the team wants to put players in the best position to succeed.
On the team's official depth chart, Moats and Dupree are the primary players at the left outside linebacker position, but there is one more name to add into the equation -- Anthony Chickillo.
Chickillo is also a second year pass rusher, and has received rave reviews from coaches and media throughout training camp. The issue with Chickillo isn't so much his capabilities, but his health. He suffered a sprained ankle in the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, missed the second preseason game and re-injured the ankle in the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Mike Tomlin downplayed the injury to Chickillo, but he also did the same with the groin injury to Dupree, so take that with a grain of salt.
So, if Chickillo is banged up, who will back up Moats? The next logical answer isn't moving an inside linebacker to the outside, but switching Jarvis Jones to the left side of the defense. Jones did this briefly in the third preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, and could be the man to bounce back and forth to help spell either Moats or James Harrison.
Yes, the 38 year-old ageless wonder is at it again, and looks to be in better shape now than his 2015 self. Harrison played more in the preseason this year than he has in years, and he looks ready to log some miles if the team needs him to do so...and they might just need Harrison to step into the phone booth and come out donning the red cape with a big 'S' on it once again.
The Dupree injury puts an already struggling depth chart on the verge of life support. The coaching staff, and players, will have to step up to prove they are capable of putting pressure on the quarterback off the edge to help hurry the play, and ultimately assist in protecting a questionable secondary.