PITTSBURGH — The Steelers offensive injury bug has been well documented, with Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, Jaylen Samuels and James Washington out and Mason Rudolph’s availability in question for this week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But they might have a brewing injury problem in the defensive secondary, as well.
After apparently finishing Sunday’s Week 5 setback to the Baltimore Ravens at full health, head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday that cornerback Steve Nelson suffered a groin injury that game.
Nelson has been limited in each of the team’s first two practice sessions this week. Thursday, slot cornerback Mike Hilton suffered a foot injury and was also limited in practice.
Being a full participant in Friday’s practice will be the key to whether or not those two are able to suit up. If they can’t, that would remove two-fifths of the Steelers’ defensive backs from their Nickel and Dime packages.
That’s a real enough possibility that it was apparently on the mind of defensive coordinator
Keith Butler on Thursday. Butler said that he’s more confident in his defense’s ability to combat the matchup problems that Chargers slot receiver Keenan Allen presents this season.
When asked about the changes in personnel that may have put his defense in a better position to defend this season, Butler threw on the brakes.
“We will wait to see when we get there who we have available and stuff like that,” he said. “Hopefully, we will be OK in terms of our health for the most part and see what happens.”
Nelson is one of the key additions to the defense from 2018, along with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebackers Mark Barron and Devin Bush.
Barron has also not practiced this week after suffering a hamstring injury against the Ravens.
It seems like the Steelers’ infamous failure to properly cover Allen in 2018 was a driving force in the personnel changes they’ve made to their defense since then.
But the new-look Steelers might look a lot like the old-look Steelers if Barron, Hilton and Nelson can’t dress on Sunday.
Report: Steelers Interviewing Mike Sullivan for QB Coach Vacancy
The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly interviewing Mike Sullivan for their quarterbacks coach vacancy, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.
A 17-year coaching veteran at the NFL level, Sullivan was most recently the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos in 2018. He also has previous experience as an offensive coordinator with the New York Giants (2016-17) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-12).
Sullivan is currently the Director of Recruiting at his alma mater Army, a position he has held since March of last year.
Sullivan would also bring additional championship pedigree to the Steelers, having won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with the Giants.
Former Giants quarterback Eli Manning had one of the best seasons of his career in 2011 under Sullivan, passing for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The Steelers are looking to fill the void left by Matt Canada, who was officially promoted to offensive coordinator on Monday.
The Steelers are talking to Mike Sullivan, a long-time former offensive coordinator/QB coach with the NY Giants and Denver Broncos, about becoming their QB coach, per source.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) January 26, 2021
Mic Drop: Rooting for Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell Is Easy Choice
The idea that either Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell will become a Super Bowl champion after Super Bowl LV isn’t exactly something that makes Steelers fans excited for the big game. With that said, Mike Asti feels deciding who to root for should be an easy choice for Steelers fans. He wants to set the record straight once and for all of why Pittsburgh fans need to stop grouping the two former Steelers together.
While they both left the franchise in a cloud of drama, Le’Veon Bell doesn’t deserve to be treated as if he committed the same kind of sins against the Steelers that Antonio Brown did.
Steelers Promote QB Coach Matt Canada to Offensive Coordinator
The Pittsburgh Steelers have officially promoted quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to offensive coordinator, the organization announced Monday.
We have promoted Matt Canada to offensive coordinator.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 25, 2021
After the Steelers chose not to renew the contract of previous offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, multiple outlets reported on Jan. 16 that the team was planning to hire from within and promote Canada.
The club reportedly also interviewed former Cleveland Browns head coach Hugh Jackson and Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, which proved to be mere formalities.
Canada, 48, was also reportedly a candidate for the offensive coordinator opening with the Miami Dolphins, which was filled last week.
Prior to arriving in Pittsburgh ahead of last season, Canada was most recently the offensive coordinator and interim head coach at Maryland in 2018.
He has also made stops as an offensive coordinator at LSU, Pitt, NC State, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Indiana and Butler.
Canada is most known for his success at Pitt in 2016, where he orchestrated the nation’s tenth-ranked scoring offense averaging 42 points per game. He was recognized as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant, that season.