The Week-16 game vs. the Houston Texans has the feel of a consolation prize. After the Steelers’ loss to the Patriots in Week 15, if all teams involved win their remaining games Pittsburgh is playing for nothing but second place. A lot can change in the final two weeks, and the Steelers could claim the top spot in the AFC with some help.
But they have to get through the Texans in Week 16, on the road in prime-time. The good news for the team is they will have some very important pieces of the puzzle potentially returning to the lineup.
First, and most importantly, would be the return of cornerback Joe Haden. Haden would complete the Steelers’ secondary and give the Pittsburgh defense a chance to return to the top-tier pass defense fans witnessed when Haden, Artie Burns, Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell were all healthy and available.
Vance McDonald’s return would hopefully mark more than just getting back into the lineup, but staying in the lineup. McDonald brings an athleticism at tight end Jesse James simply doesn’t have, but he’s been out of the lineup with ankle and shoulder issues for the majority of the second half of the season.
Tyler Matakevich is also back to being a full participant in practice. How the team utilizes “Dirty Red” will be interesting, particularly after signing Sean Spence two weeks ago following Ryan Shazier’s injury, and his status as the main inside linebacker next to Vince Williams during the Week-15 game.
Antonio Brown has already been ruled out of the game, and Ramon Foster’s availability certainly is up-in-the-air after reporting to the facility with concussion-like symptoms on Monday. He will have to get through the NFL’s strict concussion protocol before being able to return to practice.
Check out the full injury reports for both teams below:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Antonio Brown (Calf)
G Ramon Foster (Concussion)
CB Joe Haden (Fibula)
LB Tyler Matakevich (Shoulder)
TE Vance McDonald (Shoulder)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Tom Savage (Concussion)
Jelani Jenkins (Concussion)
Jeff Allen (Concussion)
Kendall Lamm (Concussion)
Brian Peters (Illness)
LaTroy Lewis (Shoulder)
Braxton Miller (Concussion)