Today, the final piece of the Steelers' puzzle at tight end fell into place when the team put Matt Spaeth on the injured reserve/designated for return list.
That means Spaeth is eligible to return to practice after the sixth week of the season and would be eligible to return to the active roster after the eighth week of the season.
To fill the open spot on the 53-man roster, rookie linebacker Terence Garvin was signed from the practice squad.
As the preseason came to its midway point, the Steelers were looking at a situation at tight end where the players at the top of their depth chart were unknowns because of injuries.
Heath Miller was on the physically unable to perform list while rehabilitating the knee he injured on Dec. 23 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Spaeth was coming off recent surgery on his foot for a torn ligament, and David Johnson was just off the PUP list but still a question mark because his knee had yet to be tested.
Johnson was the first of the three to provide some clarity when his knee allowed him to practice regularly and appear in the final two preseason games without ill effects. Then when the team made its cuts on Aug. 31 to get down to the NFL mandated limit of 53 players, one of the other moves it made that day was to activate Miller from PUP.
"Heath Miller did individual drills (Monday) after he was pulled off the PUP list," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We will keep a close eye on him. I think that not only in terms of what he does but how his body responds to it is going to be an indicator of his readiness."
Then the final move came today, with Spaeth going on IR/designated to return. That leaves the Steelers with four players on their depth chart at tight end – Miller, Johnson, David Paulson, and Michael Palmer.
"Much like we've done through the majority of the preseason, specifically the third preseason game, (tight end) is going to be a committee-oriented group based on their skill-sets," said Tomlin. "I think that's an appropriate way to do it.
"We have Kelvin Beachum who is an offensive tackle who's capable in that area. David Johnson continues to work his way back, and I like the direction in which he's moving. David Paulson has distinguished himself through the preseason in the passing game. I'm sure you're going to see all of those guys, and then some. We also like Mike Palmer. Mike Palmer is a guy with NFL experience and got on a moving train, if you will, in terms of when he came to us, but really quickly proved that he's an NFL-capable guy and made NFL-quality plays throughout the preseason."
Garvin, who played safety and linebacker during his college career at West Virginia, was not drafted last April and wasn't immediately signed as a free agent. He was invited to attend Steelers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and was signed to the 90-man roster on May 6.
During the preseason, Garvin finished fifth on the team with 12 tackles, and he also had one pass defensed. He was waived on Aug. 31 and then re-signed to the team's practice squad. Garvin will wear No. 57.
To take Garvin's spot on the practice squad, the Steelers added first-year wide receiver Kashif Moore, who had spent the offseason and training camp with the team before being waived on Aug. 31. In four preseason games, Moore caught two passes for 24 yards, returned two kickoffs for 50 yards, and returned one punt for 10 yards.