What happens when you can't trust a team's injury report?
The world doesn't collapse, as we discovered last week when Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who was deactivated after being listed as probable heading into the game. The status "probable" means exactly that; a player will "probably" play in the upcoming game. Gilbert apparently took a sharp turn for the worse after last Friday's injury listing, having been deactivated completely. Mike Adams started and played all 59 of the Steelers' offensive snaps on Sunday.
Tomlin would say in his Tuesday press conference "We’d been getting quality work from Mike Adams, who is healthy, so we decided to go with the healthy hand. "We’ll go through the same process this week."
What process is that, exactly? Have Gilbert practice all week, only to not even dress for the game despite the fact the Steelers had no tackles in reserve? Perhaps the plan would be to move Ramon Foster to right tackle in the event of injury, and have reserve guard Chris Hubbard move into Foster's spot.
That seems like an awfully big risk to take when a player practiced fully all week. That isn't to say that's the wrong move or that Tomlin is recklessly endangering his team (although many would say playing Adams in all of the team's offensive snaps puts many at risk, particularly the ones carrying the ball). Maybe Gilbert slipped in the shower, or somehow managed to fall into his own legs, like his losing battles with gravity have led to with his teammates in the past. It just seems odd that Gilbert, hampered for three weeks now with an ankle injury and recipient of a contract extension this off-season, would practice fully and then not play because someone apparently was better suited to play against the Atlanta Falcons.
Of course, having that opinion would be ignoring the same instance of this just a few weeks earlier. The Steelers elected to end the season of Cortez Allen - who was listed as probable and had practiced all week leading into the team's Week 14 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The decision can be interpreted as the Steelers feeling comfortable enough in their depth at cornerback to move Allen aside while bringing Jarvis Jones back, as well as keeping special teams demon Ross Ventrone - the clubhouse leader in guesses as to who would be moved in order to activate Jones from IR-Recall.
Should it matter that Allen, too, received a big money extension this off-season? Tomlin's stance is a fair one, the players playing well will play. Then again, it's hard to see why Ike Taylor, victimized in his two games back from a broken forearm in Week 14, missed Week 15 with injuries (apparently) and is expected to play on Sunday against the Chiefs.
Perhaps we've cracked the code, though. If Taylor is listed as probable, a roster move should be expected.