In listening to reports, it is clear that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley would like to get the tight ends more involved in the offense in 2012. That should be a welcomed sight for Steelers fans, who always wonder why tight end Heath Miller seems to disappear at times in the offense. The Steelers also have a talented stable of tight ends as we outlined in tight end roster projection in early May.Weslye Saunders and rookie seventh round pick David Paulson, the team may have its most dynamic group of tight ends in recent memory. Of course, the big news concerning the tight ends is the four-game suspension that Saunders faces to start the season. However, with some recent news becoming known, the competition for an opening day roster spot may start to heat up.
In reading our sister site Giants 101, New York Giants running back Andre Brown, who was also facing a four-game suspension for a similar violation of the substance abuse policy after a reported clerical error with his prescription of Adderall, had his suspension lifted on appeal. If you are not familiar with it, Adderall is a drug often prescribed to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
While never confirmed by the league, Saunders suspension has reportedly been connected to this type of paperwork mistake, and one has to wonder if he too will have his suspension lifted upon appeal. As of now, if nothing changes, the team has until after the fourth regular season game to determine what to do with the position, but if he does have his ban lifted, it will definitely create a log jam during training camp and preseason as the offense develops.
In 2011, as an undrafted rookie free agent Saunders beat long odds and earned a roster spot after an impressive training camp where he demonstrated dynamic ability as a receiver. During the season, he flashed that same potential, finished the season as the second leading receiver at the tight end position, and saw his playing time increase as the season progressed.
With Miller and Pope solidly at the top of the depth chart, it looks like a camp battle between Saunders and Paulson for the final tight end roster spot. While Saunders is more experienced, Paulson is a reliable receiver who has shown the ability to be a chain-mover and Red Zone target in college.
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