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: Game Edition – Will Darrius Heyward-Bey get to reacclimate himself to the offensive system in the season finale?
The last game that Darrius Heyward-Bey has played for the Steelers was against the Ravens. The last game that he has played on offense for the Steelers was also against the Ravens—but not in the same game.
A couple of months back, Heyward-Bey was nominally moved into the starting lineup coming out of the Steelers’ bye week. Their first opponent was the Ravens, and the veteran wide receiver suffered a foot injury off of a deep route when the trailing defender rolled over his leg on an overthrown pass.
The special-teams standout had been sidelined due to that injury for six consecutive games before finally returning on Sunday in the rematch against the Ravens, but he was limited to doing work on special teams. Sammie Coates also happened to miss that game with a hamstring injury.
Coates was limited in practice on Friday, but they didn’t give him an injury designation, which should imply that he is available to play. Heyward-Bey had already returned, and so was not on the injury report, but there have been no indications about whether or not he was ready to come back and play on offense.
With the injuries to these two players, the Steelers’ vertical offense has been extremely hindered for a long stretch of the season. It would be nice to at least see Heyward-Bey get back up and running and at least taking on some go routes in the regular-season finale as they prepare for a postseason run.
The former first-round draft pick came up with some big catches on go routes for the offense late last season, and even in the playoffs. He has speed that every defense has to respect. That is a component that the offense has been lacking.
Considering that Antonio Brown is not expected to even dress today, it would certainly seem on paper like a good opportunity for Heyward-Bey to get some snaps on offense and maybe catch a couple of passes in a meaningless game, as far as standings go. But if they can get him reacclimated into the offense, that can make a difference in the postseason.