PITTSBURGH -- Tight end Matt Spaeth, who practiced Thursday for the first time in three months, expects the Steelers to add him to their 53-man roster within the next three weeks.
If it happens, the move won't elicit much more than yawns outside of Pittsburgh. It won't even cause ripples among most Steelers fans.
But the addition of Spaeth would be significant to a team that is going to have to find a way to run the ball with three of its last four games in Pittsburgh and the other one in Green Bay.
The Steelers re-signed Spaeth last March -- he spent the previous two seasons with the Bears -- as Heath Miller insurance and to give them another tight end who can block.
Miller returned from reconstructive knee surgery faster than anyone could have expected, but little else went right at tight end.
Spaeth sustained a Lisfranc injury in training camp that required surgery. David Johnson suffered a season-ending wrist injury in October, and the Steelers have been scrambling for tight ends behind Miller ever since they lost Spaeth and Johnson.
“Those are two of the injuries that people don't talk about a bunch,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “You hear about [Maurkice] Pouncey and you hear about [Larry] Foote but those are two big key players for us specifically as a running football team because they're both really good blockers.”
The Steelers have three weeks from the day Spaeth practiced to add him to their 53-man roster or transfer the 6-7, 260-pounder from the short-term injured reserve list to injured reserve.
Spaeth is eager to help the Steelers this season after spending a lonely last couple of months working his way back from the right foot injury.
“It's been awful, it really has,” said Spaeth, a third-round draft pick in 2007. “I was super excited to be back here and to be able to put this uniform on and play for the Steelers and then you get hurt right away and it seems like such a long time coming to put this uniform on and go out and play on a game day so I'm excited about that opportunity.”
Spaeth and Haley said it is too early to tell when the former will be ready to play again.
“I think it's kind of going to be interesting every day to see how it responds,” Spaeth said of his foot. “The more I do the more I'm going to have to pay attention to it. So far so good.”