Earlier this season the Pittsburgh Steelers dealt with a ridiculous rash of injuries across their 53-man roster. Ben Roethlisberger, DeAngelo Williams, Cameron Heyward, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Shazier and Sammie Coates all spent a significant amount of time off the field, if they ever even returned. The injury bug has left the team, but a few lingering injuries have continued to impact the team’s starting lineup.
Ramon Foster (chest) missed the Week 14 game against the Buffalo Bills, and his backup B.J. Finney filled in wonderfully in his stead. The only problem now is Finney has been entered in the NFL’s strict concussion protocol, meaning his status for the Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals would be up in the air, if he is needed.
During Mike Tomlin’s weekly Tuesday press conference, the head coach said Foster could return to practice this week, and could play this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. If he plays, Finney’s injury won’t be as significant, but if he can’t the team would have to move Chris Hubbard to the left guard position to help fill the void.
Speaking of concussions, Tomlin stated rookie Javon Hargrave remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning he is still experiencing symptoms after getting the concussion in Week 13 against the New York Giants. Without significant improvement soon, Hargrave could miss his second game in a row.
In that same game Shamarko Thomas was also concussed, but Tomlin said the safety and special teams ace should be able to get on the practice field this week. As always, his practice availability will determine if he can play in Week 15.
Other injury news for the Steelers surrounded two players who have missed a significant amount of time this season. Running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot). Tomlin stated Williams will likely return to practice this week, for the second week in a row, and has a realistic chance of playing Sunday. The news for Heyward-Bey wasn’t so sunny as Tomlin said he is still far from returning with his foot injury. It is starting to look like Heyward-Bey won’t be returning to the team before the postseason, if at all.
There was no mention of Mike Mitchell, the only player Tomlin mentioned after the team’s Week 14 win over the Buffalo Bills, who sustained a knee injury during the game. Mitchell was able to return to, and finish, the game.
Wednesday marks the first reported practice of the week, and it will be interesting to see who practices, who sits and just what the lineup will look like when the team takes their show on the road for the 4th time in 5 weeks, and the final time in the 2016 regular season.