McDonald has missed the entire preseason with a foot issue and Grimble underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb/wrist area. The Steelers could have all three—or none—for Week 1, the story said.
Jesse James is the only returning tight end who has remained healthy the entire camp. Vance McDonald has missed nine practices in a row and Xavier Grimble had his thumb and wrist wrapped Saturday when he exited early with an injury.
Related players: Pharoah McKever, Bucky Hodges, Christian Scotland-Williamson
The story said if the injured TEs are unable to go during practices, James will be backed up by McKever, Hodges and Scotland-Williamson of the United Kingdom.
The acquisition of former 49er Vance McDonald -- whom HC Mike Tomlin calls an "NFL-caliber tight end" -- puts the team's current tight ends on notice, though that doesn't mean they can't all coexist.
"We're not going to anoint him in any way," Tomlin said of McDonald. "We're going to put him in uniform like the rest of them and continue to allow them to sort themselves out. It's reasonable to expect the guys that are here to respond positively in the right way to his presence and elevate their play."
McDonald will be jumping into a nuanced offensive system cold. Being ready for Week 1 beyond a few packages is a big ask. James and Grimble can still serve an important role in the passing game, particularly in the red zone. It's clear McDonald can fight for a starting job once up to speed. With seven touchdown catches in the past two years, Ben Roethlisberger will likely utilize him in this area. Tomlin said he liked McDonald as a prospect out of Rice in 2013.
Tight end Ladarius Green signed a four-year contract with the Steelers last March, but he won’t be seeing the final three years of it.
The Steelers announced on Thursday that they have released Green. The move, which will clear just over $2.6 million in cap room, came with the failed physical designation, which isn’t a great surprise given how Green’s one season with the team played out.
Green had ankle surgery last March and did not play his first game with the Steelers until Week 10 of the regular season. He then suffered a concussion in Week 15 and missed the rest of the year. That concussion came after concerns were raised during the offseason about how long it took Green to recover from a previous head injury.