The Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary at the back end is in limbo at the moment with both of their starting safeties questionable to play tomorrow against the Ravens. Second-year Sean Davis is dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered during Sunday’s loss in Chicago, while Mike Mitchell, the ninth-year veteran, evidently re-aggravated a hamstring injury that resulted in him sitting out the preseason.
During the game against the Bears, J.J. Wilcox, the Buccaneers safety who they acquired via trade the week before the regular season began, as called into action. He rotated in at Mitchell’s spot early in the game for 10 snaps, but played a couple dozen more in the second half after Davis exited the game with his injury.
It should go without saying that he would be in the driver’s seat to enter the starting lineup should either starting safety be unable to play tomorrow. Just a reminder for those who want Robert Golden off the team so that there is no possible risk of him ever playing, not that I’m among them myself.
Neither Davis nor Mitchell were full participants in practice on Friday, which provides a tinge of concern about their status for tomorrow’s game—but then again, it’s hard for a Steelers player to be unable to get up for a Ravens game.
At the very least, even if they are not at full capacity, if the team feels that they might be able to give them some snaps, they should be dressed, even if there is an understanding that they could be readily replaced if necessary.
The good news in that regard is that, with both safeties only being limited participants in practice, it will have been Wilcox and Golden who were working with the starting defense during scrimmage work over the course of the week, so they will have gotten the starters’ reps if they need to be called upon.
Would it be entirely shocking on Sunday to see a sub-package of four cornerbacks and one safety? I don’t think so, especially not with William Gay having already moved to something of a hybrid role as the dime defender. He has taken some practice reps at safety this year in the event of an emergency, anyway.
And we may be approaching that ‘break glass’ moment on the injury front. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gay took some reps at safety in practice this week, though we would have had to have had heard that directly from a player or a coach in order to get a report on it.
I have to admit, I was pretty optimistic about the nature of the secondary this season and the fact that it seemed finally to have been stabilized and found consistency. Since then, they have replaced two of their three starting cornerbacks and both of their safeties have been in and out of the lineup. Yoi.