The Steelers are expected to place reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins on injured reserve after he underwent surgery to repair his torn quad, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
Hawkins will not be a candidate to return from injured reserve, as IR/return players must be carried through to their respective team’s 53-man roster. Given that Hawkins is landing on IR in June, he’s not eligible to come off the list later this season. A surgically-repaired torn quad can have varying recovery times, and can take anywhere from four-to-twelve months to revert to normal use.
Hawkins, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft, only has five career appearances and one start under his belt, but he was slated to open the 2018 campaign as Pittsburgh’s backup left tackle behind starter Alejandro Villanueva. With Hawkins sidelined, the Steelers may now turn to rookie third-rounder Chukwuma Okorafor, Matt Feiler, Jake Rodgers, or Joe Cheek as their primary swing tackle.
Given their relative lack of depth, it’s also possible the Steelers turn to the free agent market to look for a veteran tackle. Will Beatty has played that role for both the Giants and Eagles in recent seasons, while other available options include Chris Clark, Greg Robinson, and Chris Hairston.
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