The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t just tie the Detroit Lions in Week 10, they experienced some serious injury concerns along the way. Sure, every team has injuries, but between injuries sustained this week, or last, combined with those now on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Steelers could be without at least seven starters vs. the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.
On Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, Mike Tomlin addressed the media and spoke about the players who could possibly be back in the lineup for this Sunday Night Football matchup, and those who would be waiting till at last Week 12 before they return to action.
The Steelers have two big name players who are on the Reserve/COVID-19 List in Ben Roethlisberger and Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tomlin talked about what the team is doing, and expectations for both players’ potential return.
For Roethlisberger, Tomlin stated the franchise quarterback has an opportunity to play, providing he is able to generate the required negative tests. He also stated the team is building the offensive game plan around Mason Rudolph in the early stages of the week. He did add if Roethlisberger can “get on a moving train” later in the week, that’s what he’ll do.
For those wondering, Tomlin has no reservations about Roethlisberger missing time and being able to play. The head coach noted how this is nothing new for Roethlisberger throughout his career. Even last season Roethlisberger missed significant preparation time as a close contact, and was able to play. Lastly, Tomlin said there is no real significant differences in the plans put together whether it’s Roethlisberger or Rudolph at quarterback.
As for Fitzpatrick, Tomlin said the team doesn't anticipate Fitzpatrick coming back for the Chargers game. He went on to add how it will take multiple people to fill Fitzpatrick’s individual skill set. Filling those shoes won’t be easy, but the team will likely call on Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew and Karl Joseph to help fill the void until Fitzpatrick can return to the team.
As for those who could be returning to practice this week, Tomlin said he is excited about Chase Claypool (toe) working his way back this week. As always, especially with a toe injury, you never know how the body will respond, so practice participation will be key this week for Claypool after missing the Week 10 game.
Joe Haden (mid-foot sprain) was injured in-game vs. the Detroit Lions, and Tomlin added he will have an opportunity to participate in practice, and the same was said about guard Kevin Dotson (high ankle sprain). An opportunity will be provided, but it is unclear whether they’ll be back on the field Sunday night.
The Steelers’ other starting guard, Trai Turner, finds himself in a different area than Dotson. Turner’s ankle injury has Tomlin confident the veteran guard can show up and be available this Sunday, barring a setback.
The biggest name on the injury update was T.J. Watt (hip/knee), and Tomlin said he will always leave the light on for Watt to play. However, he did mention how Watt’s participation, or lack thereof, this week will dictate whether Watt can play in Los Angeles in prime time.
Keeping an eye on the injury report is nothing new to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base, and the first reported practice, Wednesday, will be big news for the Steelers as they prepare for the Chargers in Week 11 on Sunday Night Football.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the 2021 regular season.
For a full rundown of Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out the BTSC Press Conference Recap podcast below: