Despite the outcome of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the team got some good news on the injury front when the players returned to practice Monday. Two players who have missed the past two games due to injury, ILB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) and Daniel McCullers (knee), were able to practice Monday in some capacity.
The return of the two defenders is great news for a Steelers' defense which recently surrendered 190 yards on the ground to the Ravens in their 23-20 overtime loss. Shazier, when healthy, can be the difference-maker in both pass coverage and run support. No game in his short professional career typified that more than his last game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was in that game when Shazier racked up 15 tackles, two sacks, recovered one fumble and caused another one.
#Steelers' Shazier said it felt good to be back at practice today. Said he got hurt on last of his 15 tackles against 49ers.— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) October 5, 2015
McCullers' return to practice will certainly help alleviate some of the issues the Steelers are experiencing along the defensive line. With McCullers in the lineup, it allows him to spell Steve McLendon, which puts Cam Thomas back into the rotation at the defensive end position. Thomas can spell Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward to keep bodies fresh and able; however, when McCullers was out of the lineup, Thomas was forced to back up McLendon at nose tackle, leaving the defensive line thin in depth.
DT Daniel McCullers confirmed he was back on #Steelers practice field today. Feels his MCL will improve thru week and should be ready Monday— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) October 5, 2015
The Steelers getting healthy with their extended break between a Thursday night game and a Monday night game the following week could be just what the doctor ordered. Especially for a team desperately needing time to get their ducks in a row following a short week and playing with several injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
As for the offense, the long-awaited 2015 debut of Steelers' wide receiver Martavis Bryant will occur against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football, as Bryant participated in practice on Monday and is ready to make his return to action.