While the Pittsburgh Steelers held a bonus practice session on Monday coming off the bye-week with a full complement of players at training for the first time in weeks, it seems there are still a handful of names battling injury. With Morgan Burnett, L.J. Fort and Darrius Heyward-Bey only able to participate in a partial capacity, their availability to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 8 remains in doubt.
However, when speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Mike Tomlin was clearly pleased to see all his players back on the practice field, even if some were limited.
“We largely have a healthy football team. We have a group of guys that maybe missed some time in the last game, or in recent games, that are participating in a limited-like capacity, but we’re excited about their inclusion in our work. Morgan Burnett worked some yesterday, he’ll continue to work in a partial capacity. We’ll let that be our guide in terms of his potential availability. Darrius Heyward-Bey with his ankle, same thing. [L.J.] Fort with his ankle, same thing. We’ll look at some others along those lines, but those are the guys in most recent times that have missed some time and are working their way back to us. Excited about that.”
Considering Burnett was far from optimistic about a quick return to action as he left for the bye-week, it maybe somewhat premature to expect him back in time to play against the Browns. But seeing him at practice in any form is encouraging given how long he has been out. Since injuring his groin in Week 2, the veteran safety has only practiced fully once and has been a limited participant on just three occasions, never on consecutive days. Even if he is merely a limited participant in training on back-to-back day this week, that would be an improvement.
Heyward-Bey has missed the last two game, while Fort missed his first contest of the year in Week 6. If either of them hope to play in Week 8, they will need to be full participants in practice at some point before the week is out to be considered.