The Pittsburgh Steelers Friday injury included three players listed as questionable for the team’s Sunday home game against the New England Patriots and that’s the first time since Week 11 we’ve seen that many players given that specific game status designation in a single week.
Entering Week 12 of the regular season a questionable tag didn’t ultimately bode well for a Steelers player. In fact, of the 16 different times players ended a week listed as questionable on the team’s injury report through the first 11 weeks of the season, only three times did a player ultimately wind up dressing and playing in the ensuing game.
Now, let me remind you about outside linebacker James Harrison and his injuries this season. Personally, I believe those listings were a farce and Harrison recently admitted as much in a social media video. If you remove his two questionable listings from the first 11 weeks of the season, it helps the percentage some. Additionally, tackle Jerald Hawkins being listed as questionable in Week 3 might not be a solid example as the second-year player was likely to be inactive that week even if he had been fully healthy.
Over the course of the last three weeks, however, a questionable listing for a Steelers player hasn’t been a bad thing at all. In fact, during the last three weeks, wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Mitchell have both wound up dressing and playing after ending the week listed as questionable on the team’s injury report. Brown battled through a toe injury in Week 13 while Mitchell battled through an ankle injury in Week 12 and Week 14.
The three players the Steelers listed as questionable on Friday for Sunday’s game against the Patriots were cornerback Joe Haden (fibula), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring). Haden and Smith-Schuster were listed as being limited practice participants on Friday while Sensabaugh was listed as a full participant.
Haden, according to several Friday reports, is considered a game-time decision for Sunday and that’s not surprising being as he did reportedly get some reps with the first team this week and even during Friday’s practice. To me, that’s a positive sign that he might just wind up making his return this weekend. Sunday, by the way, will mark five weeks to the day since Haden suffered his fractured fibula. As for Sensabaugh, it’s always a great sign when a player practices fully to close out a week. In short, Don’t be surprised if Sensabaugh dresses Sunday.
Smith-Schuster might very well be the most-questionable of the three questionable players this week. Remember, the Steelers rookie wide receiver missed the team’s Week 12 game with a hamstring injury and while he did return to play in Week 13, he sat out Week 14 due to a suspension and that meant he couldn’t workout with the team last week. Those soft tissue injuries can be tricky and thus it won’t be surprising to see him not dress Sunday against the Patriots.
Steelers questionable players this season and if they played:
Week 1: OLB Bud Dupree (no)
Week 2: TE Vance McDonald (no), DE Stephon Tuitt (no), S J.J. Wilcox (no)
Week 3: T Jerald Hawkins (no), DE Stephon Tuitt (no)
Week 4: S Sean Davis (yes), G Ramon Foster (yes), T Marcus Gilbert (no), OLB James Harrison (no), S Mike Mitchell (no)
Week 5: WR Martavis Bryant (yes)
Week 6: G Ramon Foster (no)
Week 11: OLB James Harrison (no), TE Vance McDonald (no), S Mike Mitchell (no)
Week 12: S Mike Mitchell (yes)
Week 13: WR Antonio Brown (yes)
Week 14: S Mike Mitchell (yes)
Week 15: CB Joe Haden (?), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (?), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (?)