Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
The Pittsburgh Steelers have protected their four weekly practice squad players heading into Week 5.
The 2020 NFL season is now four weeks down even though the Steelers have only had three games. 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 matchup.
This week, the Steelers reverted back to four familiar names who are protected for their Week 5 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The player who is not on the list from last week is running back Trey Edmunds.
Defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux and running back Wendell Smallwood are now on their fifth week of being one of the Steelers protected players. Even though the Steelers did not play in Week 4, they had already declared their four players in anticipation of the matchup. Wide receiver Deon Cain is on the list yet again this week which makes his third straight appearance. With the Steelers only carrying five wide receivers on the roster, it makes since to know one will be available should any concerns arise during the week.
Coming back to the protected practice squad list is outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott. The Steelers have dressed every player on the roster at the outside linebacker position, so making sure they have another player available is a wise move as long as the spot isn;t needed somewhere else.
The player Elliott replaced for the previous week was running back Trey Edmunds. Last week having Edmunds on the list was quite interesting is because the Steelers looked to be without fullback Derek Watt 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. The fact Edmunds was not protected this week means either the Steelers believe Watt could be available, or they have no plans to utilize a fullback against Philadelphia. Even though he was not protected, Edmunds could still be elevated on game day.
The protected player list can sometimes be used to get a feel about who the Steelers think may not be available for the upcoming game. After having a weekend off, it appears the Steelers could have some players available who may have missed the game from Week 4 if the Steelers would have been able to play.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 5 game against Philadelphia.