As the Pittsburgh Steelers enter week 14, injuries have forced several starters to miss significant time. This week is no exception.
LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), Ike Taylor (ankle), and Mike Adams (leg) were ruled out of today's contest against the San Diego Chargers earlier in the week. Byron Leftwich (ribs) was pushing to be ready, but will miss another game due to the return of Ben Roethlisberger and the healthy heroics of Charlie Batch. While Rashard Mendenhall is not currently suffering from any injury, he will be inactive yet again as a result of his poor performance against the Cleveland Browns in week 12. The two remaining inactives, however, are a bit more surprising.
Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress were two names heavily considered to be deactivated this week. Cotchery, who suffered multiple fractured ribs against Baltimore in week 11, has returned to practice and been given a green light to return to work. Burress, while still learning the offense, is still seen as a redzone option. Both will receive game hats this week.
The two other players deactivated for week 14 were Al Woods and John Malecki. Woods' deactivation was surprising, because his name was not on the injury report through the week. His absence means the Steelers will have only 5 defensive linemen dressed, as opposed to the six we usually carry.
Malecki losing his active status for this week points to positive signs towards David DeCastro, who returned to the roster a few weeks ago, but has yet to see the field as he tries to return to game shape after missing the first half of the season due to injuries suffered against the Buffalo Bills in the third week of the preseason. If Malecki was deemed unnecessary for week 14, surely DeCastro must have proved he is able to play, if in no other form than as emergency backup along the interior of the offensive line.
The deactivation of Malecki and Woods also means that newly promoted Josh Victorian will see the field against the Chargers in special teams duty, and possibly on defense with the dime packages. Expect to see other young players continue to contribute to special teams, like Adrian Robinson, Robert Golden, and DeMarcus Van Dyke.