USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers much-maligned secondary has suffered from unexpected injuries and inexperienced reserves recently, but have reason for hope as they try to salvage their playoff dreams.
Cortez Allen practiced fully on Wednesday with no setbacks, making him a probable start in week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Allen has been sidelined since suffering a hip flexor and a groin issue in a loss to the San Diego Chargers in week 14.
More good news involved Keenan Lewis returning to practice, although he was limited after re-aggravating the hip flexor that forced him to miss the latter part of the loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week 15. Despite his limitation, he stated he expects to shadow A.J. Green on Sunday, no matter what.
Their return will issue a sigh of relief from the men who attempted to uphold the standard in their absence: Josh Victorian, Curtis Brown, and Justin King, who recently signed with the Steelers after DeMarcus Van Dyke was placed on injured reserve.
The Steelers will need a healthy secondary to subdue Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing attack. To further ensure health, Troy Polamalu sat out Tuesday's practice as he continues to play his way through a lower leg issue, although his absence from practice was not labeled as injury related.
The defensive line was also missing two participants today. Cameron Heyward, like Polamalu, was not an injury related omission; while Al Woods missed practice due to an illness. This is possibly the same illness that forced four other players to miss practice time last week; and is rumored to be the same illness flirting with Mike Wallace. All four affected players from last week were well enough to play after about three days, meaning Wallace and Woods should be able to participate on Sunday.
One day after left guard and former right tackle Willie Colon went on injured reserve, rookie tackle Mike Adams returned to practice today, though he was limited for observation. While he hasn't been completely ruled out for Sunday's contest, Kelvin Beachum is expected to start yet another game in his rookie season. Colon and Adams had a significant effect on the running game in the year's first meeting between the Steelers and the Bengals. This time it will be up to the rookies Beachum, and David DeCastro, who made his first start last week against the Cowboys.
The only other player on the injury report was Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has been dealing with a shoulder sprain, and more recently bruised ribs. Sanders was limited in practice on Wednesday, but is expected to be ready, willing, and able to play on Sunday.