The Pittsburgh Steelers can\’t seem to catch a break health wise at the outside linebacker position as both Brandon Johnson and Ryan Baker both sustained ankle injuries of some sorts on Saturday. Head coach Mike Tomlin did not indicate the severity of the injuries after practice, but hopefully both players can return to practice Sunday as the lines are might short right now.
With both James Harrison and Jason Worilds still on the PUP list, and LaMarr Woodley not working fully the last several days, it appears that Chris Carter and undrafted free agent Adrian Robinson are getting a good bulk of the snaps right now in practice. Linebacker coach Keith Butler said in an interview this past week with David Todd that both Stevenson Sylvester and Mortty Ivy have been taken reps outside and that will likely continue heading into this week.
If indeed the injury to Woodley is a groin, as reported by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Saturday, then you can bet that they will not be rushing him back into action. It is a good bet that they might even hold him out of the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles this coming Thursday night. I certainly would.
It\’s not only the outside guys getting dinged either as inside linebacker Brandon Hicks suffered a lower abdominal injury of sorts this past Thursday. There hasn\’t been any update on him since, so hopefully he is back working. Marshall McFadden at least is still healthy, but all of his reps have come inside as expected.
Should the ankle injuries to either Johnson or Baker cost them any practice time, you very well could see another roster move take place as soon as Sunday. Especially if it is Baker, who they can just waive injured.
The strength of the Steelers defense is their linebackers, especially the ones that play outside. While position flexibility is nice, having Sylvester take so many reps outside will not help his development inside, where he is expected to back up Larry Foote this season. The lines are short enough as they are right now and this team needs to start getting healthy at the outside position soon.
I wonder if Joey Porter is still in town.