Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Jaylen Warren
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The rookie running back did not practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury that he suffered in the team’s last game. While the Steelers have an extra day before they play on Monday night, a rookie’s non-participation during a Thursday practice is not a great indication for their availability.
Rookie college free agent running back Jaylen Warren has emerged from cult favorite to fan favorite over the course of the regular season, to the point where he has even fueled debates as to whether or not he should start over 2021 Pro Bowler Najee Harris.
Harris has had a strong two weeks coming out of the bye, though, and now Warren is dealing with a hamstring injury that could potentially keep him out of the Steelers’ next game on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
He has not practiced so far this week. Since they do play a day later, it’s possible that the coaching staff is being a little extra cautious, but if he doesn’t practice today, then it seems very likely he is not going to be available against the Colts.
In such an event, Benny Snell Jr. would emerge as the complementary back behind Harris. While it’s a role that isn’t unfamiliar to him, he has hardly played a snap of offensive football all season. The team would likely also elevate Anthony McFarland Jr. from the practice squad, who is no stranger to the 53-man roster as a former fourth-round pick.
Today will be the key day. If he is able to participate in practice in some form or fashion, then he should have a chance to play. If not, it would be hard to see him being available. As a player who is asked to be a third-down back, he has responsibilities that do need reps, so that makes it harder to put him on the field as a rookie with limited or no practice time.