The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing the very real prospect of being without their top tight end, Ladarius Green, for their biggest game of the season. Though he has only been active for the past since games since being activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list, he has been making a big impact in recent weeks, including two crucial catches on Sunday. The second of those two catches ended with a concussive impact.
From most accounts, Green is not expected to participate in practice today in any capacity, which suggests that he is fairly early on in the concussion protocol. That would not be surprising, but it will make it all that more difficult for him to be able to work through all the steps by the end of the week to be able to play on Sunday.
In the likely event that that does happen, it will be very interesting to see how they end up using first-year tight end Xavier Grimble, who gradually built up a bigger and bigger role for himself in the offense leading up to Green’s debut. Until Sunday’s game, however, he had been a non-factor for several games, though he also dealt with an injury during that time period.
The game against the Bengals was the first in which he received any snaps on offense in a few weeks, and though it wasn’t much, it does suggest that they were already planning on utilizing him, and not just having him for depth in case of a real emergency.
Grimble played eight snaps in Cincinnati, and it should be noted that only one of those snaps came after Green left the game with the injury toward the end of the game, on the final drive. He was not on their final three snaps in victory formation, either.
Late in the first half, Grimble even received a target from Ben Roethlisberger, who I believe last week alluded to him during his radio show in the context of getting him back as another potential target in the passing game.
That pass was caught and went for a five-yard gain on the first play of the drive, but it ended up being wiped out by a penalty, so he technically did not have any targets, let alone receptions, over the course of the game.
While I will acknowledge that, since I have not completed the charting yet, I have not taken a deep dive into Grimble’s eight snaps to break down how he was used, the fact of the matter is that they were using him, albeit a bit sporadically.
You might recall that I have written leading up to the bye week that Grimble was beginning to take more and more snaps away from Jesse James, with Green essentially replacing Grimble. There was even a game or two in which Grimble logged more snaps than James. With Green out, it would not be surprising to see the ‘X-Man’ play a big role against the Ravens for the offense.