The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun preparations for their AFC Wild Card game Sunday vs. the Miami Dolphins, and it all started on Tuesday when Mike Tomlin addressed the media for his weekly press conference. Throughout the media session, Tomlin discussed the previous win against the Cleveland Browns, the upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins but, more importantly, the state of the team’s injuries heading into the first round of the playoffs.
There were several players listed, but the main issues discussed were the health of defensive end Stephon Tuitt (knee) and tight end Ladarius Green (concussion). Both Tuitt and Green have missed the past two weeks after suffering their injuries in the Week 15 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Their availability for the AFC Wild Card round, however, is anything but certain.
Tuitt declared he is ready to play on Monday during a media availability session, and Tomlin announced Green is still progressing through the NFL’s concussion protocol.
“Ladarius Green is still in the protocol, although I will acknowledge that it’s progressing rather well,” Tomlin said. “The quality of his participation and the effects of it is going to be one of the last one or two items that he’s going to have to check off from that perspective. But we won’t shortcut the protocol. We never do. We’ll rely on our medical experts in that area as we always do.”
Green participated in both the Wednesday and Thursday practices last week, as a limited participant, before sitting out Friday and the Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns. Although some viewed this as a setback, Green was likely following the protocol set forth by the NFL, and his practice participation this week will be the true gauge for him playing on Sunday. Tomlin is optimistic, so fans too should hope to see No. 89 running wild down the seam this Sunday. But any setback for a player who has a history of head injuries such as Green isn’t necessarily out of the proverbial woods until he’s officially cleared to return to the playing field.
Tomlin also outlined a laundry list of players who are experiencing various types of injuries and, as usual, practice participation will be the true test of whether they return to the field this Sunday.
The list of players included Stephon Tuitt (knee), safety Robert Golden (ankle), Sammie Coates (hamstring), tight end Xavier Grimble (ribs) and linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle). Tomlin mentioned that defensive end Ricardo Mathews (ankle), linebacker Vince Williams (shoulder) and cornerback Justin Gilbert (shoulder) are being evaluated for injuries suffered during Sunday’s game.
The first reported practice for NFL teams playing on Sunday is Wednesday, so tomorrow will be a big day for some injured players trying to get back onto the football field vs. the Dolphins on Sunday.