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Steelers Injury Report: Pittsburgh run defense battered heading into Wild Card game vs. Miami

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The Pittsburgh Steelers were gashed by the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 and, although the run defense has improved, they’re a battered bunch.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed Jay Ajayi to rush for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns in their Week 6 meeting in Miami. While the Dolphins are hoping for a repeat performance from one of the NFL’s grittiest runners, the Steelers are hoping they can shut down Ajayi and company, making Miami rely on Matt Moore to win the football game.

But the Steelers’ defensive line is a battered bunch heading into the AFC Wild Card game. While the good news is the apparent return of Stephon Tuitt, who has missed the past two weeks with a sprained knee, the rest of the defensive line is certainly having some injury issues.

Ricardo Mathews, who has been a great acquisition for defensive line depth, filling in for both Cameron Heyward and Tuitt, missed his second practice in a row with an ankle injury. The odds of him playing on Sunday are decreasing by the day.

With Heyward out, Tuitt nursing a knee injury and Mathews out with an ankle injury, the team has relied on Javon Hargrave, L.T. Walton and rookie Johnny Maxey to help fill the void. Hargrave and Walton are set to play Sunday, while Maxey is nursing his own ankle injury—but still is hopeful to play when Miami comes to town.

Needless to say, Stephon Tuitt’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Black-and-Gold because, if they’re able to slow down the Dolphins’ running game, it’ll be a gigantic first step toward moving on to the AFC Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Assuming Tuitt and Maxey are able to play on Sunday and Mathews is out, the Steelers will have a defensive line consisting of Tuitt, Hargrave, Walton, Maxey and Daniel McCullers.

Other injuries of note for the Steelers are Anthony Chickillo (ankle) and Vince Williams (shoulder) who both missed their second day of practice. Robert Golden (ankle) was promoted to a limited participant after missing Wednesday’s practice.

The Steelers aren’t the only ones with key injuries, though, and the Dolphins certainly have their share. Take a look at Pittsburgh and Miami’s full Thursday injury reports below:

Pittsburgh

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Anthony Chickillo (Ankle)
DE Ricardo Mathews (Ankle)
LB Vince Williams (Shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
S Robert Golden (Ankle)
DE Johnny Maxey (Ankle)

FULL PARTICIPATION
WR Sammie Coates (Hamstring)
CB Justin Gilbert (Shoulder)
TE Ladarius Green (Concussion)
TE Xavier Grimble (Ribs)
DE Stephon Tuitt (Knee)

Miami

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Byron Maxell (Ankle)
QB Ryan Tannehill (Knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
LB Jelani Jenkins (Knee)
S Bacarri Rambo (Chest)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Tony Lippett (Thigh)
C Kraig Urbik (Knee)