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2017 South Side Questions: Does D-Line Have Enough Depth For Sunday?

The regular season is now over, 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 postseason 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 playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: How much quality depth will the Steelers have available to them for the defensive line on Sunday?

When it comes to the defensive line, it seems as though the only two players who are not or have not dealt with any issues within the past week are L.T. Walton and Daniel McCullers. These two, not coincidentally, logged the majority of the Steelers’ final snaps on Sunday against the Browns.

Stephon Tuitt, of course, has missed the past two games, and is looking to return from a knee injury. He looks as though he will indeed return, but at what level remains to be seen. Perhaps more important will be how many snaps he is able to play.

Meanwhile, Javon Hargrave ultimately left Sunday’s game. He walked off the field to be checked for a concussion on the second-to-last play of a drive. He played on the first two plays of the next drive, but did not play for the rest of the game. He reportedly played coy about the circumstances that led to him not playing in overtime, though he appears to be in line to play without issue on Sunday.

Both Ricardo Mathews and Johnny Maxey are dealing with ankle injuries. Mathews has been suffering through his for a couple of weeks now and was limited to only 10 snaps on Sunday. It’s not currently clear whether or not he will be available for the Dolphins game.

Maxey was erroneously left off the injury report on Tuesday, and has been a limited participant for both practices this week so far. He has played an important role in the past two games with Mathews and Tuitt ailing, but hopefully with Tuitt’s return, they can get by without needing him.

Assuming that they have at least Tuitt, Hargrave, Walton, and McCullers, the Steelers should be able to get through the Wildcard game against the Dolphins without issue—assuming that Tuitt is legitimately ready to go. Otherwise, they may find that they have a bigger problem on their hands then they anticipated.

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