Mike Tomlin didn't meet with the media after Wednesday's practice, and with a closed practice on Thursday, there's a little mystery about several Steelers availability for Friday night's game against the Detroit Lions.
Tomlin was equally iffy about several players earlier this week, stating:
"I am not going to officially declare anyone out. I like to leave the door open, particularly for those that are nursing minor injuries."
However, Tomlin did label several players as "reasonable" to sit out Friday's game due to injuries:
- Markus Wheaton
- Artie Burns
- Travis Feeney
- Roy Philon
Of course, the biggest scratch on the roster is offseason acquisition Ladarius Green, who has yet to step on a practice field for the Steelers. Green, who is recovery from minor surgery to repair an a lingering ankle injury from last season, has also been linked to having headaches which are sidelining his progress. The tight end has said he will be ready for the regular season, but continues to test his ability to run and cut on a field separate from the rest of the team.
Others whose status is up in the air include Bud Dupree, Jerald Hawkins and Jarvis Jones, who all sat out Wednesday's practice. Sean Davis left practice early and was seen with his knee wrapped in ice while observing from the sidelines.
Verteran Maurkice Pouncey also sat out the mid-week practice, but has been officially ruled out by the Steelers head coach. Joining him in street clothes include several players we suggested sit the entire preseason, such as Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and both "starting" running backs Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams.
The moves are expected as Pittsburgh looks to protect their impact players from injury. During last year's second preseason game, Maurkice Pouncey had his ankle rolled on, and subsequently broken. The injury wound up costing Pouncey his entire season, something the Steelers can ill afford having happen to any of the aforementioned names.
In Roethlisberger's place, the Steelers have not made an official announcement as to whether backup quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski or Landry Jones will get the start. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Daryl Richardson expect to get the lion's share of carries, while Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates expect to each see at least a full quarter of play at the receiver spots, with newer Steelers Eli Rogers and Demarcus Ayers competing for snaps at the slot.
On the defensive side of the ball, I'd expect all of the former first-round picks to see little, if any, time on the field. Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier may see one or two possessions before finding a spot to watch the remainder of the game for the evening. Expect similar reps for Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, William Gay and Mike Mitchell.
The remaining players, especially the newest additions to the 90-man roster, will look to fill the rest of the time, as they try to impress the coaching staff to make it past the first round of cuts, which will trim the current 90 players down to 75 following the Steelers second preseason game on August 18th.