The injury report for the Pittsburgh Steelers ended the week the way it began on Friday, with just one name listed once again. After being a limited participant in practice on Wednesday, tight end Vance McDonald was held out of training on both Thursday and Friday and has now been officially ruled out of the game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Given that McDonald has not been able to fully practice with the team since leaving practice with a foot injury just days into training camp, it is hardly a shock to see him sitting out the first game of the year.
Since the trade that brought him to Pittsburgh right before the start of the 2017 season, McDonald has already missed six games and been a partial participant in several others. As the presumed starter at tight end, his value to the team is becoming increasingly questionable if he cannot make it onto the field when it counts.
Jesse James will once again start in his place on Sunday, with Xavier Grimble likely to see extensive playing time in two tight end sets. However, considering Grimble is also recovering from an injury of his own, his snaps could well be limited too.
Although Ramon Foster and T.J. Watt have missed extensive playing time themselves this preseason, both are expected to feature against Cleveland after they were full participants in training all week. When speaking to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Foster confirmed he was almost back to full strength.
“It’s so good to finally feel almost close to normal, I never thought I would have an injury like that after going for so long. It feels so good to be back in the fold. If you ever played the game, being outside and watching it puts a little feeling on yourself. I am just glad to be back.”
Watt was equally excited to get back on the field and eager to see some real game action.
“I hated missing as much time as I did. I love the game of football so much. I think that is why it’s so hard for me. Some guys might enjoy the break, but for me it was so tough. I tried to stay focused and take as many mental reps and watch as much film as possible just to get ready for this week and the Cleveland Browns. My body feels good and I am ready to go.”
While the Browns also only have one player officially ruled out for the game in cornerback E.J. Gaines (Knee), linebacker James Burgess is also doubtful (Concussion).