While the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be stricken by a plague of injuries in the early stages of the preseason, they are getting back some players expected to perform in training camp.
Nicholas Williams and Terry Hawthorne returned to practice on Monday. Stevenson Sylvester is expected to return when practice resumes on Thursday. Considering all three currently exist on the bubble concerning upcoming roster decisions, they are making their way back just in time.
On Monday afternoon, Tomlin reaffirmed his position on players not being able to make the club from the tub.
"Obviously, they don’t have the chance to make the team if they are not on the field, so good for them."
Hawthorne was one of four cornerbacks dealing with a lower leg injury. Cortez Allen continues to nurse a sore knee, Curtis Brown is dealing with an ankle and DeMarcus Van Dyke continues to miss significant time with a hamstring. In the Week 1 preseason loss to the New York Giants, the Steelers were limited to only six available CBs. Ike Taylor and William Gay started the game, although Josh Victorian and Isaiah Green played most of the game. Their backups Ryan Steed and Devin Smith saw some playing time, but neither stood out.
Nicholas Williams is currently tied for last in a congested defensive end position battle with Brian Arnfelt, who made himself noticed against the Giants; although no one played better than Al Woods, who currently sits ahead of both Arnfelt and N. Williams on the depth chart. Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward and Brett Keisel are locked into the top three spots. Also complicating Williams effort to make the roster are Alamdea Ta'amu and Hebron Fangupo who are pushing for backup NT duties with Woods.
Sylvester may have entered the Giants loss as the presumed primary backup to ILBs Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote, but he may have left a little further down the depth chart after having WR Markus Wheaton roll up his ankle. With Sylvester sitting out, the rest of the ILBs made their presences known. Brian Rolle was all over the field, Marshall McFadden was making plays in the backfield and Vince Williams didn't play like a rookie.
The Steelers have too many decisions to make to afford players missing 'precautionary' time. Hawthorne, Williams and Sylvester are hardly written out of their respective battles, but each saw first hand how every missed moment becomes someone else's opportunity.
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