When news broke on July 30 that cornerback Senquez Golson, the Steelers second round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, had been carted from the practice fields of St. Vincent College with what appeared to be a lower-body ailment (later revealed as a hamstring injury), my initial reaction was to chuckle.
The chuckle wasn't malicious in nature, mind you; it was more along the lines of, "I can't believe this guy's luck."
First it was the shoulder injury and then surgery that extinguished Golson's rookie season before it even saw a training camp.
Then it was the Lisfranc injury and subsequent surgery that snuffed out Golson's second season just days into his first official training camp.
Now the hamstring?
Of course, social media and blogs being what they are, fans, many of whom had long-since written Golson off, were saying he was done.
"But none of these injuries were really that catastrophic," I may have Tweeted or just thought to myself. "Why would the Steelers, who thought so highly of Golson when they drafted him out of Mississippi two years ago, they already had him ear-marked for the nickel corner position before he even unpacked for his first mini-camp, so easily dismiss this guy without giving him a serious and thorough look?"
But then I listened to a radio appearance by Gerry Dulac, a Steelers beat writer that works for both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Steelers Radio Network, who all but said the team's front office--including the likes of general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin—had already considered Golson a long-shot to help the team in 2017—even before his latest physical setback.
Oh well, if Dulac, a Steelers insider who is about as well-connected to the organization as anyone, said it, it had to be true.
Kind of a shame, really, and when you think about it, isn't it a bit short-sighted?
What do we know about Golson right now, other than he's suffered three separate injuries that have forced him to miss all but a few training camp reps in two-plus years?
You might say, we know that he's injury-prone, a label that's hard to dispute. But do we know that these injuries have diminished his skills? Do we truly know that Golson is just not cut out for the rigors of professional football? Lifting weights, perhaps, but the actual game of professional football?
I ask that question because Golson played 47 games in four seasons at Mississippi and never had a problem with injuries, such as the ones he's suffered with the Steelers.
So, does a shoulder injury, a mid-foot sprain and a hamstring injury all come together to render a 24-year old athletically gifted football player useless?
Maybe, but how will we know until we know?
Greg Lloyd missed his first two seasons with injuries, and he is now part of the Steelers family tree of bad-ass outside linebackers.
That has nothing to do with this, of course, but it's really hard to label Golson a bust when the label keeps falling off the bottle.
Was Limas Sweed a bust? Sure, he was a wide receiver who couldn't catch.
Was Jarvis Jones a bust? Obviously, since he was an outside linebacker who couldn't rush the passer.
As for Golson, right now, he's just busted.
The Steelers have been trying to find all the right parts to piece together a secondary they hope can transform from a liability into a strength. It's early yet, but Artie Burns and Sean Davis look like the real deals. Ross Cockrell has yet to do anything to lose his starting cornerback job, but if he does, it may be because Cameron Sutton, the rookie third round pick out of Tennessee, blows right past him and onto the top of the depth chart.
Then there's Willie Gay, Coty Sensabaugh, Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden.
And maybe even cornerback Mike Hilton, a 2016 UDFA from Ole Miss and a college teammate of Golson's, a youngster who has taken advantage of the injury absences of players like Golson and Sutton, and has turned some heads at camp early on.
Tomlin often likes to say "All hands on deck," when his team is heading into a game compromised by injury.
You might even say the "All Hands on Deck" philosophy applies to building a roster, because you can't do it all by taking a traditional and logical route.
Take a look at the blue-chip offensive line that is rounded out by an UDFA at left guard and a player who used to be a receiver at left tackle.
The Steelers can't leave any stone unturned when trying to build what they hope to be an elite secondary.
Obviously, it's up to Golson himself to get healthy and give his bosses a stone to turn over and examine. But there is plenty of camp remaining and four preseason games.
Therefore, if Senquez Golson gets healthy sooner rather than later, the Steelers owe it to themselves and their secondary to give him a serious look before moving on.