This week’s injury reports so far have been a mixture of good news and bad news, but with Cameron Heyward being a full participant in practice for two days in a row now, let’s just say that it skews heavily for the good. With that said, the Pittsburgh Steelers have both Tyson Alualu and now Isaiah Buggs not practicing.
If that translates to their being inactive for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, then that has to be a concern, if only purely from a depth and snap count standpoint. Heyward ordinarily can eat up a lot of snaps, but coming off of an apparently mild knee injury, perhaps you would want to rotate him more.
Should Alualu and Buggs both miss this game, with Chris Wormley on injured reserve, then behind Stephon Tuitt, you’re looking at just Henry Mondeaux and rookie Carlos Davis, who has not dressed for a game yet this season, with Calvin Taylor—a rookie free agent—on the practice squad. In case anybody’s wondering, it’s too late to add anybody else for the game at this point with the need to go through a six-day Covid-19 screening. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler addressed the defensive line depth earlier today:
“I wish we had more, but we don’t”, he stated, pretty bluntly, via a transcript provided to us by the team’s PR department. “Our guys, I think Tuitt and Cam are going to be okay. Our young guys have got to come along if we have to bring them up. They’re going to have to step up”.
Regarding Buggs, he didn’t appear to suffer any obvious injury on Sunday, at least that translated to him missing snaps. The second-year man did practice on a limited basis on Wednesday before not practicing at all today, so tomorrow will be the critical day in determining his status. He could still play.
He played a career-high 34 snaps against the Baltimore Ravens. That accounts for 40 percent of the total defensive snaps that he has played so far this season, and 21.25 percent of the total defensive snaps that he has played during his career.
As for Mondeaux, who was called up from the practice squad two weeks ago and made his NFL debut against the Tennessee Titans, played six snaps the week before last. He saw 19 snaps on defense playing against the Ravens. He has seen some snaps at nose tackle.
Davis was a seventh-round draft pick in April out of Nebraska. Unfortunately, with no preseason and no access to training camp, we know virtually nothing about him that isn’t on his college tape, aside from the fact that the Steelers felt he showed enough to make the 53-man roster. We may learn more about him in Dallas.