The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with some key injuries as they head into the Monday Night Football game vs. their AFC North adversaries the Cincinnati Bengals. While some players have been ruled out, and some still have a chance to play, it is worth taking a look at how the team’s roster might take shape if some players cannot play in Week 13.
Injury: Antonio Brown (toe)
If Brown is unable to play in Cincinnati, he is listed as questionable, it wouldn’t be Martavis Bryant who would take his spot in the lineup, but JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster can be moved inside and outside, like Brown, and Bryant would stay on the outside at his usual position. This would also include more repetitions for Eli Rogers.
Injury: Mike Mitchell (ankle)
Mitchell is listed as doubtful, and if he can’t play it will be Robert Golden, not J.J. Wilcox, who will be the next man up. Golden knows the defense, has the experience, but lacks the speed and athleticism of Mitchell. However, he performed well against the Titans in Week 11, and has an interception this season, something Mitchell hasn’t done yet.
Injury: Joe Haden (fibula)
Joe Haden has been ruled out, which means Coty Sensabaugh will make another start for the black-and-gold. This isn’t earth-shattering news, but when A.J. Green is the next stud receiver to cover, it could be a problem. Will Artie Burns, or Sensabaugh, shadow Green? Only time will tell...
Injury: Vance McDonald (ankle)
McDonald has been ruled out for Week 13, and will miss his third game in a row. McDonald’s absence will lead to more snaps for Xavier Grimble alongside the steady Jesse James.
Injury: Ryan Shazier (ankle)
Shazier isn’t listed on the team’s final injury report, meaning he should be good-to-go, but if he were to tweak his ankle and have to come out of the game, Tyler Matakevich is likely the next man up at inside linebacker. Matakevich is a huge drop off in athleticism, and the Steelers could possibly turn to more of a 4-3 look, or sub packages, to help mask the absence of their most dynamic defender.