By Teresa Varley
The Steelers made five roster moves on Monday to get down to the mandatory 75-man roster. The most notable move was placing guard Darnell Stapleton on injured reserve. Stapleton was bothered by his knee early in training camp and had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage.
"We continued to watch his progress coming off the surgery," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "It wasn't moving in the direction we would like it to move. We didn't think he was going to be able to do it. Maybe he has another procedure in his future. What we have done is slowed the process down and put his health first and foremost. We are no longer working under a clock trying to make decisions as to whether or not he is going to be a part of this 09 football season or not.
"That is unfortunate, but that is football. I talked to Darnell today. He is ready to move forward and focus on getting well and others are going to focus on moving forward and filling that void."
Trai Essex has taken Stapleton's right guard position and Doug Legursky could emerge as a back-up along the line. Legursky, who originally signed with the Steelers as a rookie free agent out of Marshall in 2008 and spent part of last season on the practice squad, has made an impact by being able to play both guard and center.
"I have been pleased with what Doug Legursky has done," said Tomlin. "He has taken advantage of an opportunity. He has shown position flexibility. He has played some center. He has played some guard.
"When you look at where he is in his career and what he is doing on our football team, it kind of mirrors the position Darnell was in a year ago. Darnell was a guy who was an undrafted second-year man in our program, he showed some interior offensive line position flexibility and that's how he stuck and made it and on down the line he had an opportunity to get in the lineup. A year ago Darnell Stapleton was Doug Legursky."
The team also released wide receivers Steven Black and Martin Nance, center Alex Stepanovich and safety Derrick Richardson.