After a week of relative optimism about his status, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green ended the week of practice on the sidelines following full practice sessions earlier in the week. While he is officially heading into the Dolphins game with a ‘questionable’ designation, he is not expected to be prepared to play.
The concern with Green, of course, is the fact that he is dealing with a concussion, which he suffered toward the end of the Steelers’ Week 15 victory over the Bengals. He did not practice in the build-up to the Ravens game the following week, but he was able to return to practice in a limited capacity ahead of the Browns game, for which he would not have dressed anyway due to the fact that it held no playoff implications.
The Steelers were obviously able to get by without Green over the course of the past two games, during which they were able to win—in comeback fashion on both occasions—the hope was that his big-play ability from the tight-end position would be available for them at the start of the postseason.
With that not looking to be the case, we are probably going to be seeing first-year tight end Xavier Grimble emerging in a bigger role once again, which was the case initially in the win over the Ravens—he recorded a 20-yard touchdown to cap off the opening drive—until he took a shot to the ribs on said catch.
His snaps were limited for the remainder of that game and he did not play, though he was dressed, in the season finale against the Browns while nursing the ribs injury. He told reporters yesterday, however, that he is feeling as good as he had in a while, and that is good enough for me.
The Steelers have played 10 of 16 games over the course of the regular season without Green, of course, during which they have primarily used Jesse James as the do-everything player in that spot, but over the course of the season, they began to rely upon Grimble more in no-huddle situations when they are looking for more of an impact in the receiving game.
I would expect to see him incorporated into the offense for about 20 to 25 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps, depending on the game circumstances. If they are pressing to score late in a half, he may see even more time. Grimble actually saw more snaps than James in the game against New England, for example.
With the first-year player is still not without his warts, and has not always been on the same page as Ben Roethlisberger, he does offer a semblance of the big-play look that the Steelers wanted out of Green. He has two touchdowns on the season and both of them are of the explosive variety on deep passes. And considering Miami’s banged up secondary, it might be a match-up they would want to game-plan to exploit.