We should learn in a matter of hours a little bit more about the nature and severity of the shoulder injury that was suffered by Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald during head coach Mike Tomlin’s pre-game press conference scheduled for later today, but man, can this guy not catch a break.
The veteran fifth-year tight end in his first season with the Steelers had just returned after missing three games with an ankle injury before suffering his latest in a string of minor ailments that have plagued him throughout the year, this occurring about midway through the game.
And perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the injury is the fact that he was looking as though he were no worse for the wear. Before exiting with the shoulder injury, he already had four receptions for 52 yards, and had the athleticism and fleetness of foot on his yards-after-catch that no doubt attracted the Steelers to him.
Heading into the game, he had just five receptions on the season, though those five receptions went for 79 yards. He now has nine receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown on the season, all of that production coming in the past four games for which he has dressed.
But the problem is that those four games have come over an eight-game span. He has already missed five games out of the 13 that the Steelers have played this year, coming at three separate periods of the season, as a result of three separate injuries.
McDonald is running out of body parts to injure. He missed the second game of the season because of a back injury. He exited the Week Seven game due to a knee injury as he was having arguably his best game of the season, and his first taking starter’s snaps.
After sitting out the next game and having the bye week to recover, he returned against the Colts, but was rolled up on from behind during a kick return as a blocker, suffering an ankle sprain that caused him to miss the past three weeks. He returned to finish that game, but that proved to be only adrenaline.
The fact of the matter is that McDonald had not played a game in which he had to leave at some point due to injury in almost two months, going all the way back to the October 15 game against the Chiefs, during which he caught his first pass for 26 yards on a vertical target.
Considering the number of injuries that he has dealt with over the course of his career, including the four seasons he spent with the 49ers, it would be hard to argue that slapping the ‘injury-prone’ tag on him does not has some merit, much as I loathe the term.
McDonald can be a great asset at tight end when he is on the field, but he has to stay on the field. There is no compelling reason to believe that they will happen. The fact that this is no the first article of this nature that I have written only strengthens the truth value of that statement.