The Pittsburgh Steelers had avoided the big injury for half of the regular season—that is, until Week 10 vs. the Indianapolis Colts. During the game, they saw Joe Haden fracture his fibula and Mike Mitchell injure his ankle.
We now know Haden will out out of the lineup for weeks. How long is debatable, but the status of Mitchell is unclear.
This was reported by NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala:
If Mitchell is unable to play, there’s a very good chance the defense will still be in good hands. Robert Golden, who prior to Sean Davis being drafted, was in line as the starter for the safety position, is capable of playing both safety positions. So if Mitchell cannot play, Golden should be able to step in just fine.
Throw in the fact J.J. Wilcox isn’t as experienced in Keith Butler’s system, and Golden could be the next man up. With that said, don’t be shocked if the Steelers have designed roles for both Golden and Wilcox vs. the Titans. But again, that’s assuming Mitchell isn’t in the lineup.
Time to check on the Black-and-gold news outside the walls of BTSC:
Mike Mitchell's right-hand man occupies the locker to his left, and the Steelers starting free safety has no reservation about Robert Golden replacing him when necessary.
“No hesitation at all,” Mitchell said. “If I feel something is not right, I immediately tap and Rob G. comes in. He's a starter in my mind.”
Golden spent the week preparing to start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday if Mitchell's Achilles prevents him from playing.
“It sucks to see your brother get hurt, but we're trying to win a championship and I'm the next guy up,” Golden said. “I've got to go out there and make sure I get the job done.”
It's the personification of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's “Next Man Up” motto, the secret to the Steelers' success.
Golden is among a handful of Steelers who are former starters now backups, displaying leadership despite reduced roles.
That includes defensive end Tyson Alualu, defensive backs Will Gay and Coty Sensabaugh, outside linebackers James Harrison and Arthur Moats, receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter, tight end Vance McDonald and safety J.J. Wilcox, players who give the Steelers depth and experience in case of emergency.
For their latest theatrical creation, Le'Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster opted for a re-enactment.
Bell, the Steelers star running back, and Smith-Schuster, their rookie receiver, have developed celebrations to use after either scores this season after the NFL loosened its rules.
In their latest collaboration Sunday during a 20-17 win against the Colts, Smith-Schuster was approached by Bell after scoring midway through the third quarter to begin a comeback from a 14-point deficit.
Bell appeared to grab Smith-Schuster around the neck and pull him down. Most didn't initially pick up on what the celebration was.
The news initially was bad regarding Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. It may not be quite as bad as at first feared.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Haden could miss only three weeks with a slight fracture of the fibula. The injury will not require surgery.
Haden, signed by the Steelers after being cut by the Browns in August, has started all nine games this year. His absence will mean more reps for Coty Sensabaugh and veteran William Gay.