There was a bit of good news on the injury report yesterday, as Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green returned to practice, albeit in a limited capacity. This is a key piece of information because it had been nearly two weeks since he last registered any level of participation in practice.
What this information tells us about his potential availability is, of course, limited. We will know more today than we knew yesterday, and we will know more on Friday than we will today. That is the basic nature of concussion recovery and, more specifically, the concussion protocol and the steps that must be taken.
For what it’s worth, the ever-reliable Ian Rapoport did write on Twitter yesterday that the Steelers “believed he’d be back this week”, and that his return to practice offers “some optimism”. Rapoport’s account is the only documentation that I have seen of there being an expression of a working timetable.
Of course, the Steelers were hoping that Green would be back two weeks ago, and it initially looked as though that might well be the case, but things don’t always go according to plan. The fifth-year player has been dealing with complications of recovering from a concussion for the past five weeks.
As you will recall, the big tight end suffered the concussion late in the Steelers’ victory over the Bengals in Week 15, making a key catch on third down to preserve possession on a six-minute closeout drive. He returned to limited participation in practice in the week leading up to the season finale two weeks later.
After that game, Green did participate in practice fully in Wednesday and Thursday prior to the Wildcard game against the Dolphins. However, he experienced some sort of setback that resulted in him not practicing at all on that Friday, nor the entirety of the following week heading into the game in Kansas City.
13 days after he last practiced, the offseason acquisition got in some light work in practice working in individual drills with the tight end group. If he experiences no setbacks, he may return to practice in full today, hopefully, and if that happens, it will be a great sign that he will be available to the Steelers’ offense on Sunday, which, really, would be a nice little bonus.
By now means has Green had the debut season in Pittsburgh that he or anybody else anticipated. He started things off by missing the first half of the regular season while still recovering from ankle surgery, an injury he suffered late in the 2015 season and ended his year. He also had to deal with frequent reports and speculation about his concussion history, past and present.
The concussion that Green suffered against the Bengals is his fourth on record. He suffered one late in the 2014 season with the Chargers as his first documented, which resulted in him sitting out one game. In 2015, he suffered a concussion prior to the start of the regular season in practice, and then suffered another one in the second game of the season, causing him to miss a game.
Including the past four games with the Steelers, he has missed six games over the course of his career in three separate years due to three separate concussions. The first concussions, which occurred four days prior to the season opener, did not result in him missing time.