NFL scouts may finally get their chance to see Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus healthy this season.
The reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year has been out of the lineup since playing in the season opener against Utah on September 2nd. Back pain made Romeus a shadow of his former self in that contest. He underwent surgery to repair a disk in his lower back approximately two weeks later.
Though Pitt head coach Dave Wannestadt informed the media that Romeus has been medically cleared to play, the former NFL head coach isn't likely to rush Romeus back onto the field -- especially with the Panthers' next game so soon. Pitt travels to play Connecticut on Thursday.
With only one game played in the past 11 months, Romeus won't be in true football shape and the Panthers are fortunate to have had Jabaal Sheard and junior Brandon Lindsey step up in their play since Romeus was sidelined.
Sheard leads the Big East with nine sacks and Lindsey is right behind him with eight -- the same number Romeus had in 2009.
When healthy, Romeus has proven himself to be one of the top defensive ends in the country. At 6-5, 268 pounds he has the prototypical height, length and strength that teams are looking for and is capable of contributing early in his pro career as a true three-down right end. Romeus' return to health is especially important due to the fact that he remains a relatively raw prospect. Romeus only played one season of football in high school.
Following the Connecticut game, the Panthers have three more regular season games this season. At 5-3, including 3-0 in the Big East thus far, the Panthers are only one win away from guaranteeing a bowl berth. The only undefeated team in the Big East, Pitt is the favorite to win the conference and play in a BCS game.
With as many as five more games left to scout Romeus this season, NFL teams should have ample opportunity to determine if he is back to full strength and worthy of high round consideration.