You might have noticed that the Pittsburgh Steelers have piled up a significant number of injuries, not just lately, but also over the course of the season. Just this past Sunday, the team officially declared out no less than nine players. They had to move some players around, placing two on Injured Reserve, just to field a 45-man active roster.
When the Steelers take the practice field today, it is likely that as many as 11 players will not begin the week as practice participants, including six starters, although for at least the majority of them, there is a chance that they will be able to play on Sunday.
What is behind the lengthy weekly injury reports for the Steelers? Apparently, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yesterday seemed to suggest that it ties back to the team’s physical practices, which are said to be much more aggressive than the majority of practice sessions around the league.
According to Ed Bouchette, Roethlisberger appeared on 93.7 The Fan and talked about the injury situation, saying, “I think a lot of our stuff stems from [the fact that] we’re one of the most physical teams in training camp, in practice, you know. We do more hitting than most teams do and more pads”.
Roethlisberger relayed an anecdote from training camp when they held joint practices with the Lions leading up to their preseason game against Detroit, with Bouchette writing that “they were surprised at how different the two teams’ practice habits were”.
“They hadn’t even gone a day in pads”, Roethlisberger said, “and we had already done like two weeks”. The Steelers do not wait long before getting into their padded practices once training camp opens, as readers of this site know. They generally take the first available opportunity to get them on and start hitting. “We’re talking to their players about how physical our practices are”.
He continued, “I think sometimes it takes a toll on some guys, you know, hamstrings and quads and guys reinjuring things”. He also said that “we have to take care of our guys” as he discussed a necessary balance in “being a physical football team”.
Of course, it should be pointed out that, while Roethlisberger is an athlete, he is certainly not a medical professional, nor a sports scientist, so while he may be able to bring some anecdotal evidence to the table in witnessing soft-tissue injuries as a correlation to physical practices, that does not mean that is the case.
The Steelers have gone through their fair share of tough training camps for the past few years now, and it never seemed to make Cameron Heyward worse for wear. His hamstring injury on Sunday seems to be the primary catalyst for the recent injury discussion, given that he has never missed a game before.
And, of course, I am not a sports scientist either, so I’m not going to inject too much of myself in here, since I would be out of my element. But it is not for nothing that Roethlisberger brought up the physicality of practices in light of the number of injuries that they have experienced this season.