The Pittsburgh Steelers are now preparing to play the Cincinnati Bengals on the road Sunday and they’re doing so with a long list of players dealing with injuries. On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave a health update on his team and it want an overly encouraging one.
“On the injury front, we’ve got three guys that are in the protocol and the protocol will run its course,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “We’ll wait to get word on their availability as we begin to push through the week. That’s Ola [Adeniyi] , Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu also has a knee injury, but the protocol being the first and foremost of the things that he’s dealing with. We’ll take a look at the knee injury and his ability to function or not as he gains clearance through the protocol and gets potential practice opportunities and so forth.”
Outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and wide receivers Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster all suffered concussions at different points during the Steelers Thursday night road loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Tomlin also updated the status of running back James Conner, who left the Thursday night game against the Browns at the end of the first quarter after aggravating his previous shoulder injury.
“James Conner re-injured his shoulder in-game,” Tomlin said. “Don’t know what his availability might be this week. Really, practice availability and functionality will be our guide in terms of his participation.”
Cornerback Artie Burns also suffered a knee injury against the Browns and Tomlin updated his condition on Tuesday in addition to talking about the knee injury that defensive end L.T. Walton apparently suffered recently. Walton was inactive Thursday against the Browns.
“Artie Burns had an in-game knee injury that appears to be minor,” Tomlin said. “He’ll be limited at the early portions of the week and let that be our guide in terms of his participation. L.T. Walton has a knee injury, a meniscal tear, that needs to be repaired and so that’s going to be done. If it hasn’t been done today, it’ll be done shortly.”
As for running back Benny Snell Jr., who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, Tomlin made it sound like on Tuesday that the rookie might be able to return on Sunday against the Bengals.
“Excited about the potential return of Benny Snell, who’s coming off a knee injury,” Tomlin said. “He’s been cleared to practice this week and we’ll get him on the field and see what he looks like. And not only in terms of his health, but a young guy like him who’s missed a block of time, we’ll be focused on his ability to execute and execute in great detail. And so he’s got a two-prong thing that he’s got an answer. Not only health, but game readiness from a detail and knowledge standpoint and that’s a reasonable process for a young guy.”
On the surface, it appears as there’s a good chance that Conner, Adeniyi, Johnson and Smith-Schuster all ultimately miss the Sunday road game against the Bengals. None of those four players are seemingly expected to practice on Wednesday. The same goes for Walton. The Steelers first official injury report of Week 12 will be released after the team practices on Wednesday.