The Pittsburgh Steelers will close out their 2016 preseason Thursday night on the road against the Carolina Panthers and head coach Mike Tomlin indicated Tuesday during his weekly press conference that several of the team’s starters on both side of the football will sit out the contest.
According to Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Markus Wheaton, James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Mike Mitchell, and William Gay will definitely be held out of action Thursday night in Carolina. Additionally, Tomlin indicated that several of the team’s starting offensive linemen will sit out as well so you can probably expect tackle Marcuus Gilbert to be one of them.
While Tomlin did say that he expects rookie cornerback Artie Burns to make his NFL debut Thursday night against the Panthers, he didn’t sound confident that second-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree would be making his 2016 debut.
“I think Bud Dupree has an evaluation this afternoon,” said Tomlin of the Steelers injured linebacker. “We’ll have more information about where he is.”
Due to Gilbert currently dealing with an elbow injury that could potentially wind up needing surgery after the season is over, Tomlin was asked Tuesday if and how he will monitor the starting right tackle over the course of the year.
“I’m not,” said Tomlin of Gilbert. “If he plays, then he’s good enough to play and that’s how we approach it. I’m not going to quantify level of availability. Either he’s available, or he’s not. We expect him to be available, so we’re not going to over analyze it.”
With Heyward currently dealing with an ankle injury, Tomlin was asked how he plans to divide his snaps up between other players on the defensive line should the starting defensive end not be able to play come the start of the regular season.
“I’m not going to worry about something that hadn’t occurred yet,” said Tomlin. “I’m hopeful that he’ll be a full participant and if he’s not, then we’ll make necessary adjustments.”