The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will the Steelers even be able to dress 45 healthy players come Sunday?
It seems that there is something new every week on the injury front for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have already had serious trouble simply collecting enough healthy bodies to field a full game-day active roster once, which forced them to place two players on injured reserve to call two up from the practice squad.
From the initial looks of it, they may struggle once again to find 45 healthy players on Sunday, and they will once again have some big names on the sidelines, this time headlined by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Defensive end Cameron Heyward was the other high profile name already ruled out, as was Cody Wallace, but there are a number of others who are in serious jeopardy of being ready to go a few days from now.
The most notable names are wide receiver Markus Wheaton, right tackle Marcus Gilbert, and inside linebacker Ryan Shazier. Wheaton missed the last game with a recurring shoulder injury that also saw him sit out the first two games. Gilbert has been down for two games now, while Shazier is still sidelined from an MCL injury he suffered but played through early in the season.
Throw in Shamarko Thomas to the mix, who is dealing with another hamstring injury, and both safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden, even though they both finished the game on Sunday, and Golden played every snap. DeAngelo Williams also has inflammation in a knee that had him on the injury report last week.
That isn’t even mentioning Sammie Coates, who is apparently going to continue to play through a fractured finger that certainly seems to be limiting his effectiveness. Regardless of how many players they dress, the bottom line is that the Steelers are not a healthy team right now, and it’s showing up on the field.
Missing or injured pieces in strategic positions played a big role in the team’s loss on Sunday, and this coming week’s game isn’t going to be any easier—in fact, it should be significantly more difficult.