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Steelers injury concerns remain heading into the AFC Wild Card game vs. the Chiefs

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be seeing some key players return, and an update on several other walking wounded heading into the Wild Card game.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners in Week 18, as they beat the Baltimore Ravens on the road, and were able to get the help needed to punch their ticket to the AFC Playoffs. Heading into a Sunday night game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, Mike Tomlin addressed the media and addressed the injuries the team faces in the early portions of the week.

Tomlin spoke about cornerback Arthur Maulet being evaluated for a concussion, and this would mean Maulet is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. In this regard, Maulet’s availability won’t be indicative of anything other than him getting clearance from medical staff.

The biggest injury the Steelers suffered in M&T Bank Stadium was to rookie running back Najee Harris. Harris left the game with an elbow injury in the first quarter, but was able to return in the fourth quarter and make key plays in the team’s victory. Tomlin noted how Harris has been aggressive in treatment of the injury, but also acknowledged the elbow could slow him in the early portions of the week. As always, the coaching staff will let participation dictate his availability in the postseason.

Another in-game injury was to inside linebacker Robert Spillane. Tomlin noted Spillane suffered a knee injury, but he is confident he too will be able to return to the practice before they hit the road to Kansas City.

There are players who didn’t play in the game Sunday in Baltimore due to injuries. Rookie tackle Dan Moore Jr. was replaced at left tackle with an ankle injury, but Tomlin said he will have a chance to show he is healthy enough to play, and is scheduled to participate in practice starting Wednesday.

Another rookie who has logged a lot of snaps this season is center Kendrick Green. Many are wondering what the Steelers will do with Green’s potential return, and Tomlin added how Green isn’t just coming back from a calf injury, but is also coming off the Reserve/COVID List. Dealing with both of those issues makes it a unique situation. Tomlin did make a point to say how he has been very pleased with J.C. Hassenauer, giving the team options at center this week, and moving forward.

The Steelers’ head coach also was hopeful the team will get wide receiver James Washington back off the Reserve/COVID List, but that he remains in the protocol. Like the concussion protocol, the coaches’ hands are tied when it comes to when players are removed from these protocols.

Wide receiver Diontae Johnson left the game briefly Sunday with an injury to his ribs, but was unable to return and was left off the list of injured players during Tomlin’s press conference. This is good news for the injury to be a non-factor as the playoffs approach.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday night.

For a complete rundown of Coach Tomlin’s media session, check out BTSC’s Mike Tomlin Press Conference Recap podcast below: