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Matt Spaeth tagged Steelers' IR-designated for return

The Pittsburgh Steelers' depth concerns at tight end have forced them to burn their injured reserve-designated for return tag on a role player.

The team announced Tuesday that backup tight end Matt Spaeth, signed to a two-year, $2 million contract in March, will draw the "IR-recall" tag while recovering from Lisfranc surgery. He will be eligible to return to game action in Week 9.

Essentially a blocking specialist, Spaeth has managed just 49 receptions in his six-year career.

It's not unusual for players to encounter setbacks from Lisfranc injuries. Even with the question marks surrounding Heath Miller's return from reconstructive knee surgery, it's easy to envision this move coming back to haunt the Steelers.

If a high-impact player goes down with an early season injury, the front office will have no choice but to end his season or allow him to occupy a valuable spot on the 53-man roster.

The Steelers will enter the season with David Johnson, David Paulson and Michael Palmer comprising the tight-end depth chart until Miller is ready.


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Other players designated for return:

» Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans Saints linebacker: One of four defensive starters lost to injury, Vilma underwent yet another knee surgery in August.

» Danny Gorrer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback: Gorrer was battling for the nickel-back job before injuring his groin in the preseason oepner. He has since undergone surgery to fix the problem.

» Jason Pinkston, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman: Pinkston started 22 games for the Browns since being selected by the team in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. The backup guard went down with a high-ankle sprain in the team's second preseason game.

» Sanders Commings, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback: A fifth-round draft pick out of Georgia, Commings is out indefinitely after fracturing his collarbone on the first day of training camp.

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