I would make a pun about the safeties being able to do everything but protect themselves, but to tell the truth, August has not been a good month for the position on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the final day of the month was perhaps the worst of all, seeing no fewer than three of them go down with injuries.
And that is not even considering the fact that their starting free safety, Mike Mitchell, has been out since very early in training camp with some sort of lower leg injury. Head Coach Mike Tomlin after tonight’s game did not even confirm that he would be ready for the season opener against the Browns on September 10. He has not missed a game, playing through injuries, during his three years in Pittsburgh.
Now, his top backup, Robert Golden, may be there to start for him in that instance, but the Steelers currently have literally only one other safety who is healthy among the reserves, and even their other starter, Sean Davis, has had his bumps and bruises coming off of shoulder surgery.
Tonight, Jordan Dangerfield, who was seemingly pushing for the top backup job, left in the first half with an ankle injury. Malik Golden, signed on the first day of training camp from Penn State, suffered an evident groin injury as he intercepted a pass at the start of the third quarter. Finally, Pittsburgh rookie safety Terrish Webb left the game late after making a tackle on hard contact against a running back, but he did return.
That left the team with just Golden and Jacob Hagen remaining among those who were dressed, and only they and Davis can even said to be healthy right now. This leaves some pretty major questions for the position going forward, and could even see the initial 53-man roster have more or fewer safeties on it, depending on how they view these injuries.
Given the number of casualties and the already-evident lack of quality depth, one would think that Hagen has a much better chance of making the initial 53-man roster, though not as a long-term prospect, as a result, simply because they need bodies.
It’s even possible that they might consider trying to make a trade for a safety if, for example, Dangerfield’s ankle injury is significant and would result in him missing a few weeks at least. They will certainly be monitoring the waiver wire for somebody.
While Webb did return to the field following his injury, it didn’t look like he did too much, and was just out there to be a body. Following his injury, before he was able to return, the Steelers were forced to play Robert Golden, who has been running with the starters all preseason due to Mitchell’s injury.