Odds are against Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier returning to the field Sunday when the Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns, but it's not out of the question yet, either. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Shazier will run a bit today, the team's first practice of the week, and his first running activity since he sprained his knee in the team's win over Carolina in Week 3.
Shamarko Thomas, the team's backup strong safety, suffered a hamstring injury in the team's win over Jacksonville last week and may practice this week and play Sunday. The Steelers are left with questionable depth at safety should something happen to starter Troy Polamalu, but Polamalu has played every snap this season already.
The Steelers have been relatively healthy this season but the loss of cornerback Ike Taylor (broken arm, out for at least another month) and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (wrist, on IR-recall, eligible to return in mid-November) as well as Shazier and now Thomas may have an impact at some point. The depth of the team's fledgling defense is being tested, but it responded with one of its best all-around performances in Week 5.
Facing a streaky but talented Browns team in Cleveland will be a significant test, with or without Shazier and Thomas.