The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense has been hampered with injuries since Week 3, and they finally look to be getting some of their starters back as the New Orleans Saints come to Heinz Field this Sunday.
As Mike Tomlin addressed the media for his usual weekly news conference, he gave a rundown on the injury status of several players who look to make their return to the lineup this week.
Troy Polamalu (sprained knee) and Ike Taylor (broken forearm) are both finally set to return. Polamalu looks to resume his normal role in the secondary while Tomlin stated Taylor will be used in some form or fashion as he works his way back into game shape.
Barring a setback in this week's practice, both veterans are looking to make their triumphant return against Drew Brees and the lethal Saints' passing attack.
First-round rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier practiced on Monday, but Tomlin pumped the brakes on Shazier returning to the lineup on Sunday, as he stated that Shazier has to prove he can handle the workload coming off of a high ankle sprain and also prove he can execute the defense. Shazier's lack of experience might have the coaching staff hesitate before inserting him back into the starting lineup.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, but his participation in pads will be the true test of his potential return. But odds are that McLendon doesn't play this week.
Jarvis Jones is looking to work his way back onto the field after suffering a broken wrist in Week 3, but his ability to get acclimated to a cast he'll be wearing for the remainder of the season, as well as get back into football shape, will ultimately decide his participation moving forward.
A surprise addition to the injury report was cornerback Cortez Allen. Allen reportedly broke his thumb during the Saturday practice before the bye-week and had it surgically repaired last week. Allen's participation will depend on his ability to play special teams as well as to tackle with a cast on his hand.
With Shamarko Thomas and Ross Ventrone both set to resume their roles on special teams, don't be shocked if Cortez Allen lands himself on the inactive list this Sunday.