The Pittsburgh Steelers were banged up, and despite people always suggesting the bye week “came at the perfect time”, it would be hard to argue this isn’t exactly what happened to the team with their Week 8 off week.
The players were given the mandatory four days off, and returned to practice Monday, and the positive news was evident based on who returned to practice, despite there not being an official injury report until Wednesday.
Marcus Gilbert (foot/ankle), Markus Wheaton (shoulder), Cameron Heyward (hamstring) all returned to practice, and were joined in a limited basis by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (knee).
All great news for a team desperately needing some of their key players back on the field. Although Roethlisberger’s injury will be the talk of the town leading up to the team’s Week 9 showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, some would argue the participation of Gilbert and Heyward could be extremely significant in the outcome of their next game.
Nonetheless, it was good for the players to just get back out on the practice field.
“I’m glad to be out there with my guys, just to get the feel of football again,” Gilbert told Dustin Dopirak of DKPittsburghSports. “Going through certain situations, I felt really comfortable. But, you know, one day at a time. … I love this game so much. I missed being out there with my guys. Anything I can do to be out there and give my all, just get something. I want to get back out there and help this team.”
He wasn’t alone in his joy of just getting back on the field again. “Just putting the pads back on, I could speak for myself, but I just think I gotta get that hitting back,” Heyward said. “That’s such a big element in our game. Things we gotta work on, tackling, being in the right lanes, what better way to do it than with pads?”
The Steelers not only got those starters back, but other players who were nursing injuries got an extra week to rest and recover. Some of those players were: Sammie Coates (finger), Ryan Shazier (knee), Robert Golden (knee), DeAngelo Williams (knee) and Mike Mitchell (knee).
The Steelers will practice again Tuesday, and Mike Tomlin will address the media at noon to give updates on several injuries, none more important than Roethlisberger’s knee leading up to the huge AFC North showdown at M&T Bank this Sunday.