I think some of the concern here on this board with Harrison/Lewis/possibly Sanders/others leaving in addition to a few positions unclear is a glaring lack of depth across the board. Pitt, unlike MANY other teams the past several years has been a MASH unit at times, each and every year going back to 2009. People like to say, "well all teams suffer injuries". That's crap when it comes to Pitt. It is something BESIDES your normal attrition that goes with being an NFL franchise. Now whether its a combination of conditioning, bad luck, poor preparation, work ethic, or just drafting soft players is a different conversation for another day. But in the meantime, Pitt cannot afford to be losing anyone that provides depth if they can afford to keep them, regardless of age/cost. Not sure what their exact cap situation is, but if they can afford to keep someone relatively cheap, they have to try.
Until this team demonstrates an ability to keep a huge majority of its players healthy (for the whole season), then in terms of planning for roster changes, I hope Colbert/Tomlin are preparing for the following, and if not, then they should be evaluated harshly come season's end.
QB - Ben will miss 3-4 games RB - The yet to be determined starter will miss 4 games TE - The starting TE (Miller/Johnson/Spaeth) will miss 4-6 games WR - Brown and/or other starter TBD will miss 2-4 games OL - One interior lineman (DeCastro/Pouncey/Foster?) and one starting tackle (Gilbert/Adams) will miss half the season.
DT - Starting DT (McClendon) will miss 2 games DE - Both Keisel and Hood will miss 2 games OLB - Both Woodley and Worilds will both miss 4-6 games ILB - Timmons/Foote no need to plan for injuries (God I hope not) CB - Both Taylor and Allen will miss 4 games S - Polamalu will miss 4-6 games
The roster should be constructed assuming that the above WILL HAPPEN. This means in areas where you have two individuals for a starting position (OLB, DE, CB, WR, OT, OG), you BETTER HAVE THREE starter-quality players to use one as a stop-gap and fill-in for those that go down with injury at times during the year.
I AM SO WITH YOU ON THIS. WE DONT HAVE INJURIES....WE HAVE WORSE CASE! WE DONT LOSE 1 OLB...WE LOSE 2 PRO BOWL OLB AND THE #1 BACK UP. WE DO NOT LOSE STARTING QB, WE LOSE THE BACK UP IN IN NEXT GAME WHICH TAKES US TO THE #3. WE DO NOT LOSE THE PROBOWL CENTER WE LOSE THE BACK UP TOO AND HAVE TO MOVE PEOPLE AROUND BECAUSE BOTH STARTING OT ARE OUT TOO.
IT HAS BEEN A DISASTER THE LAST FEW YEARS AND I AM IN TOTAL AGREEMENT WITH EVERTHING YOU SAID.
How do you do that with the salary cap? Keep trading back in the draft if possible and sacrifice clear cut starters for depth? Wouldn't you be better off cutting players who get injured too often and have huge contracts? Seems like a no win either way. What strikes me when I look at the injuries is that the record was pretty good considering.
Unlucky that Ben went down considering he was taking far fewer hits (and losing rookie 1st rounder on that chitty Bills field). To me the QB injury is the killer, particularly with it happening mid season. A healthy QB playing in the right system will mask most of the other injuries.
From what I saw a better backup QB is needed (Gradkowski seems to fit the bill somewhat - but lets face it starting QB injured for more than 2-3 games is season over for most teams). Better depth at safety would be welcome. And another receiver and RB. All doable in the draft whilst still having some flexibility for BPA in the early rounds.