The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to play a single game this season with a full deck, meaning that they have had at least one starter miss every game due to injuries. Health has begun to trend in a positive direction with David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, and Vance McDonald working their way back, but the defense is due up to heal next.
It’s hard to say who between Morgan Burnett and Mike Hilton has been the biggest piece missing, as both of their replacements have struggled, but Hilton has overall shown himself to be one of the Steelers’ better defenders, while Burnett has hardly played a full game yet for the team.
So there can hardly be any doubt that the coaches are eager to get him back on the field after suffering an elbow injury in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week Three. He was unable to play this past Sunday, the first game in his career that he has missed, but he is hopeful to be back out there against the Atlanta Falcons.
Hilton told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he is still dealing with stiffness in his elbow, as well as a build-up of fluid that continue to limit full range of motion in terms of full outward extension, but there is good news as well.
“The pain pretty much is out of the way”, he said. “If I get the full range of motion, I’ll be ready to go”.
The second-year cornerback did not practice on Wednesday last week before returning as a limited participant the following day, but he was once again watching from the sidelines on the final day of practice, moving backward instead of forward.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin will tell us more later today about whether or not we can expect him to practice tomorrow. It’s probably a safe assumption that he will try to go, but the key will be the day after he practices for the first time, whenever that is, to see if he can practice again.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game”, he said of the injury. “We know it’s the next-man-up mentality. Some guys have to step up and be in positions now with a couple guys down. We have guys that can do it, we just have to put it all together”.
Second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton was the next man up in replacing Hilton in the slot, but he struggled during Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The team already has uncertainty at the right cornerback position, so stabilizing the slot is all the more important.