The 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers have been snake-bitten like none other this season, and while they are not making any excuses for themselves, they are getting a bit of sympathy and recognition or their plight this year, battling and improbable list of injuries that has threatened to derail their season.
In an article published yesterday by ESPN, the Steelers topped the list of a ranking of the teams most hurt by injuries this season, edging out the Cowboys, Chargers, Ravens, and Packers for the honors.
With franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likely to miss his fifth start of the season due to a second significant lower body injury, the Steelers will have played more than half of the year without him, as he has also missed a full quarter and about half of a quarter in two other games.
It hasn’t gotten much better behind him, as the Steeler also lost their backup, Bruce Gradkowski, during the preseason. Gradkowski had been Roethlisberger’s backup the previous two seasons, but only saw 10 total snaps, seven of which came at the tail end of a blowout victory, because the Pro Bowler was able to stay healthy.
Pittsburgh could have certainly used his knowledge of the offense as they watched his replacement, Mike Vick, flounder around for about two and a half games, becoming fortunate time and again to avoid interceptions, yet the Steelers still managed to win two of those three games.
The second victory only came after Landry Jones replaced him and led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. He also replaced Roethlisberger at the end of the fourth quarter on Sunday and commanded a game-winning field goal drive.
In Jones’ second start, however, he will have to try to secure his first official win without Le’Veon Bell, who played in just six games before suffering a torn MCL, while his replacement, DeAngelo Williams, has battled some inflammation in his foot following a career game for the 10-year back.
The offense has also suffered through five games without wide receiver Martavis Bryant, the entire season without All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, and the last few weeks—and the rest of the season—without underrated left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Key blocking tight end Matt Spaeth will also miss his third game tomorrow.
The defense has not been spared either, as a shoulder injury sidelined starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier for four games and has seemed to knock him off track. Starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt and starting safety Will Allen also missed two and three games, respectively, while Cortez Allen, the team’s starting nickel cornerback, played only in the season opener.
The fact that I have not even mentioned Shaun Suisham, Garrett Hartley, or Mike Adams until now just goes to show the extent to which the team has been plagued by injuries in all three phases. All three players previously named failed to play a snap for Pittsburgh this year up to this point.
All told, the Steelers currently have 17 players on some form of injury list or another, including names previously not mentioned such as rookie second-round draft pick Senquez Golson, defensive end Clifton Geathers, and early camp favorite wide receiver Eli Rogers. The team also released standout special teams ace Ross Ventrone due to injury.