Mark Kaboly | Tribune-Review
The Steelers released tight end Weslye Saunders on Friday in somewhat of a surprising move.
The team decided to keep veteran tight end Leonard Pope despite the veteran losing the second-string job to rookie David Paulson two weeks ago.
Here is what we know:
* Saunders practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday after serving a four-game suspension.
* Saunders was in the best shape of his life. He weighed in Monday at 266 — his lightest since college. He spent a month in Arizona working out at the same place Ryan Clark and James Harrison work out during the summer.
* Saunders was comfortable with playbook despite sitting out an extended period of time. He told me Tuesday: “There are only a few new plays here and there but nothing major. I am ready to go. I think I know the offense pretty well. I had a month to myself to go through the playbook so I think I am pretty prepared.”
* Offensive coordinator Todd Haley refused to label Pope’s lack of playing time (3 snaps in 2 games) as a demotion and we all know the history between Pope and Haley.
While it’s pure conjecture that the Steelers’ coaching staff was more comfortable with having a veteran like Pope around in case of an injury to Heath Miller than a second-year guy like Saunders, it does make sense.
Paulson already solidified the No. 2 job and Mike Tomlin absolutely loves Paulson.
I guess that’s all that matters when the decision was made.