While we don’t yet know the definite status of some of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ injured players, we do know that Tyson Alualu is likely to miss at least a week or two, and it’s possible that Cameron Heyward could miss some time. We will know more, at least about the latter, over the next couple of days.
Even if Heyward is healthy enough to play, his snap count is likely to be reduced, and that is going to mean that more will be on the plate of the Steelers’ young defensive linemen, Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux, who both had to play more on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in face of injuries.
“We always preach next man up here. So, I have high expectations when the person comes into the game and has to fill in the role when somebody goes down”, Stephon Tuitt said after the game regarding their play against the Ravens.
“Those guys have been working their tails off and showcasing that at practice, and I’m really glad they had that opportunity again today against a great group”, he went on. “A great individual effort that they put out there to help us win”.
Buggs ended up playing 34 snaps in the game, which was easily the most he has ever played in his career, made all the more interesting by the fact that he was actually a healthy scratch the week before. Mondeaux also finished the game with 19 snaps, so the two combined for 53 snaps on the day.
While Mondeaux was not officially credited with recording any statistics, he did have a key pressure late in the game. Buggs recorded five total tackles over the course of the contest, including on third and fourth down on the Ravens’ penultimate drive, tackling Lamar Jackson on scrambles. He also registered a hit on a sack that Stephon Tuitt cleaned up.
The Steelers, of course, still have Tuitt, who is a monster, although if they are down Heyward and Alualu, that does leave the ranks pretty thin. Chris Wormley is also on injured reserve, so that leaves them with just Buggs, Mondeaux, and rookie Carlos Davis, who has been a healthy scratch for every game this season.
The Steelers only have one defensive lineman, Calvin Taylor, on the practice squad, a rookie college free agent out of Kentucky who was originally signed after the draft and went through training camp with them. He was not originally on the practice squad, but was signed after the Chicago Bears poached Daniel McCullers.
They did not, however, choose to protect Taylor as one of their four protect practice squad players. I’m not sure that that necessarily means it indicates they don’t plan to call him up, though perhaps it may at least be a positive sign that they feel they will likely have Heyward available.