The Pittsburgh Steelers have at least one game remaining to them this season, which would be the regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a game they need to win in order to reach the playoffs, though they also need help to get there. But it all starts with taking care of what’s in their control, which is about beating who they play.
That would be the Bengals, but it will not be Tyler Eifert. It will not be Tyler Kroft. It will not even be Tyler Boyd. Basically, if there’s a Bengal named Tyler, you might as well just forget about him, Keith. They’re all on Injured Reserve.
The Steelers are playing a very battered Bengals team who have shelved their quarterback, their top two wide receivers, and their top two tight ends, all on Injured Reserve by now. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have anybody in the lineup still capable of making plays.
Cincinnati drafted Kroft in 2015, the same year the Steelers added Jesse James, but they also drafted C.J. Uzomah at that time, and he has been quietly productive when he has been tasked with playing a bigger role due to the injuries ahead of him.
Uzomah has set career highs this season with 42 receptions for 433 yards and three touchdowns. Those might not be electric numbers, but remember that he doesn’t get the work that a typical starting tight end would. He has just 63 targets on the season, which is more than half of his career total of 117.
While not a ‘receiving tight end’, Uzomah is more athletic than the average and is capable of making plays. He has six explosive plays this year and 10 in his career on just 78 receptions. Now, they’re not going to have to go out of their way to gameplan for him as though he’s Rob Gronkowski, but just because the Tylers aren’t on the field doesn’t mean Keith Butler and company can breathe easy at the tight end position.
Uzomah played a big role against the Steelers the last time these two teams met in Week Six. He caught six passes on seven targets for 54 yards, mostly going up against second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton, who was filling in for Morgan Burnett at the dimeback spot.
Though he didn’t come out of that game with a touchdown, it was his biggest game of the season in terms of receptions and yardage. Sutton did have a pass defensed against him, and would have had another on a play that was negated by penalty.
Because the Bengals don’t have a whole lot else to threaten the Steelers with outside of Joe Mixon—there’s no A.J. Green to worry about—they theoretically shouldn’t have much trouble taking away Uzomah, or at least leaving him in positions to affect the game. That is if the team realizes he’s on the field.