The Steelers come out of the bye week with two key injuries - OLB LaMarr Woodley is still nursing the hamstring he injured in Week 9, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is working to play with a broken thumb in his passing hand as the Steelers prepare to take on Kansas City in Week 12.
Roethlisberger practiced Monday, and said he would likely hand off with his left hand against the Chiefs. Woodley, though, did not practice, and is listed as questionable for the game.
It would be Woodley's third consecutive missed game if he's unable to play. He and perennial Pro Bowl OLB James Harrison have not played together since the second half of Pittsburgh's Week 4 loss at Houston.
Hamstring injuries are tricky. They're very easy to re-injure, and in cold weather, it's even more difficult to keep them loose enough to be protected. In the previous two games, and the six without Harrison, the Steelers used a combination of Lawrence Timmons and Jason Worlids to replace their marquee pass-rushing linebackers. ILB James Farrior missed time during that stretch as well, forcing the Steelers to dig deep into their depth chart.
While not ideal, the Steelers went 5-1 during that stretch, with the only loss coming at home against Baltimore, a game in which James Harrison had three sacks and a crucial forced fumble.
Playing with injuries is nothing new for Roethlisberger, who perhaps could be the only quarterback in the league who cites a broken thumb on his throwing hand as a "chronic injury." Even considering his renowned toughness, this may be a game for the Steelers to return to the ground. New England shredded the Chiefs for 34 points, and got 4.5 yards a carry out of their ground game.