The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Would the Steelers’ injured/returning players (Vance McDonald, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Joe Haden) played tonight, and if so, would they have been able to be effective?
While most Steelers fans, from my experience, are somewhere between annoyed and livid about the NFL’s decision to move tonight’s game against the Baltimore Ravens to a Sunday afternoon kickoff as the Ravens continue to experience a glut of new Covid-positive cases, the reality is that even Pittsburgh could stand to benefit from the move in practical ways.
Granted, they will now only have friends and family in the stands instead of a few thousand fans, but that would be a fair trade-off if it proves to be the difference between having a healthy and effective JuJu Smith-Schuster, Joe Haden, and Vance McDonald and not having them.
Both of the former two starters suffered injuries on Sunday, the former a foot injury, the latter a knee. They have been limited in practice. It’s not clear that they would have played today, or if they did, if they wouldn’t have been impaired.
McDonald is just getting over the coronavirus himself after missing the past two games and having begun to experience symptoms three weeks ago. He surely hasn’t done much physical activity and reasonably could benefit from a couple of additional practices. Or it gives Kevin Rader more time to prepare.
Bottom line, it’s very obvious that you’d rather be the Steelers than the Ravens in this situation, the latter now with seven players having tested positive for Covid-19, including several starters.