As an undrafted rookie in 2018, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi was one of the bright young lights for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason. He picked up three sacks in the preseason, two of them producing fumbles, as he picked up steam to make a run at a roster spot.
While he did make the team, his momentum came to a grinding halt with a hamstring injury suffered in the final preseason game. After he was kept on the initial 53-man roster, they quickly shifted him to the Reserve/Injured List, waiting for the cut-downs so that they could move him while retaining his eligibility to be Designated for Return.
Still, while he was activated for the final month of the season, all of that time missed, and the lack of opportunity to play on special teams, meant that he pretty much was sitting on the sidelines. He played in one game, registering a handful of snaps, but watched the rest of the way.
He’s facing another momentum killer in his second season after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee that was operated upon and will sideline him for at least the duration of the preseason, and perhaps into the regular season as well.
“Injuries happen”, he told Chris Adamski yesterday while sporting a heavily bandaged knee and unable to divulge the specific nature of his injury or the subsequent medical procedure. “You can’t dwell too much on it”, he added. “I’m just trying to get back right and just get back into the swing of things”.
The Steelers’ outside linebacker line is incredibly thin right now, perhaps down to just four healthy players, including starters T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. With Adeniyi sidelined, Anthony Chickillo was dinged in the second preseason game. Tuzar Skipper remains, and Sutton Smith is returning to full-time work.
While it’s unlikely that his roster spot is in jeopardy—thanks in large part due to the fact that he was also able to show that he would be able to make a difference on special teams in the preseason opener before he was injured—the time off could hurt his ability to contribute, at least in the early portions of the season.
Adeniyi talked in the spring about how difficult it was to spent all of that time injured. He said that he “felt like I wasn’t part of the team” during that time. “I kept talking to the guys. I kept hanging around them. It definitely felt like I wasn’t part of the team. I am over on one side doing a track meet. I can’t do anything football wise. It was hard”.
While this injury should not prove to be nearly as long in duration, nor should he have to spend any time off the 53-man roster, it is nonetheless frustrating to have these repeated false starts with his health. He is ready to contribute; it’s just up to his body to be willing, not just to perform, but to be on the field to get the requisite work in that would allow the coaches to deploy him.