The Pittsburgh Steelers are a banged up team. There is no other way around this simple fact. After remaining relatively healthy throughout the preseason, the injury bug has bitten them in a bad way.
As the team prepares for a road trip to Lambeau Field in Week 4, the status of big name players like T.J. Watt, Diontae Johnson, Alex Highsmith and JuJu Smith-Schuster remain up in the air.
During Mike Tomlin’s Tuesday press conference, he discussed the injury situation for the Steelers, and although he gave no definitive answer, he was able to shed some light on things.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, who left the game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals with a rib injury, is expected to practice this week. Tomlin said Smith-Schuster may be limited Wednesday, but should be available vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.
The other in-game injury was a concussion to offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor. He has entered the NFL’s concussion protocol, which will ultimately decide whether he can practice, and play, in the near future.
As for the players who missed the game Sunday with their own specific injuries, they are all expected to practice this week. Will they be able to play? That depends on the “Quantity and Quality” of their work, according to Tomlin. Their ability to practice will be the guide for availability.
The players Tomlin was referring to would be:
Diontae Johnson (knee)
T.J. Watt (groin)
Alex Highsmith (groin)
Tomlin was later asked about the pectoral injury to Ben Roethlisbeger, and Tomlin said he met with Roethlisberger, as he always does, and Roethlisberger isn’t any worse for the punishment he took on Sunday at Heinz Field. In other words, the Steelers aren’t expecting him to miss any practice time leading up to Week 4.
Kendrick Green was brought up later in the press conference, considering he left the game Sunday, and Mike Tomlin stated Green’s injury was nothing serious and he should be able to practice this week.
Tomlin did state early in the press conference how heading into Week 4 players who are on Injured Reserve (IR) are eligible to return to the lineup. The Steelers’ coach said the players who are on IR are working hard, and possibly getting close to return. Once they are deemed back to work, meaning removed from IR, they have 21 calendar days until they have to be placed on the 53-man roster.
The players who are currently on IR:
Stephon Tuitt (knee)
Zach Banner (knee)
Anthony McFarland (undisclosed)
The Steelers will return to practice Wednesday, and the first injury report will be very telling for many players who have been dealing with injury. With that said, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field.
For more information on Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out BTSC’s recap podcast below.