PITTSBURGH — While the backup quarterback position battle rages on and rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson turned some heads, the biggest thing that most football coaches want to get out of a preseason game is to come out of it as healthy as they went in.
With a couple of notable exceptions, that was mostly the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Saturday’s 17-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field.
Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell suffered a groin injury and outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo injured his chest, but head coach Mike Tomlin called both ailments minor.
“We had some guys with minor bumps and bruises that are being evaluated: Benny Snell with a groin, [Anthony] Chickillo with a chest injury of some description,” Tomlin said. “ None of that appears to be serious at this juncture.
Snell finished with 16 yards on seven carries. He came into the game late in the first half, after James Conner and Jaylen Samuels both worked with the starters.
Chickillo had one tackle. A prolonged absence for him would leave the Steelers thin at outside linebacker. Fellow backup Ola Adeniyi is expected to miss at least two to four weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Saturday. Sixth-round rookie Sutton Smith didn’t play with an abdominal injury.
Undrafted rookie Tuzar Skipper filled in for Chickillo. He finished with three tackles, one sack for six yards, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Tomlin held a number of other players out of the game. Ben Roethlisberger did not dress. Also sitting out were David DeCastro (soreness), Zach Gentry (upper body), Joe Haden (foot contusion), Maurkice Pouncey (undisclosed), Christian Scotland-Williamson (soft tissue) and Vince Williams (hamstring).
Rookie linebacker Devin Bush dressed for warmups, but also didn’t play. Bush missed the team’s final padded practice of training camp on Wednesday.
“I held Devin Bush out of the game,” Tomlin said. “He missed a couple days during the week with a shoulder. We will bring him back and prepare and get going here as we get ready for our next one, just as a precaution.”
The visiting Chiefs were not as lucky on the injury front. Head coach Andy Reed said safety Tyrann Mathieu left with a shoulder injury and “should be OK.” He gave similarly positive prognoses for defensive end Breeland Speaks (knee sprain) and defensive tackle Justin Hamilton (hyperextension). More series were injuries to tight end Deon Yelder (ankle) and wide receiver Marcus Kemp (knee sprain).
“That one (Kemp) looks like it’s the most serious of the bunch,” Reid said. “He’s been playing so well. I feel bad for him. He’s a great kid, tough kid. They’re taking these hits away from the upper body, so the defensive backs are going at the legs, so you’re going to come up with things like this.”
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/18/20
James Conner tested out his injured ankle and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Chase Claypool during practice on Friday, September 18, 2020.
This practice was in preparation for the Steelers week 2 game on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Cam Heyward Named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has been named NFLPA Community MVP for Week 1.
Heyward was honored for installing his first Little Free Library, a book-sharing box placed in underserved communities around the Pittsburgh area.
Congrats to @camheyward on being named Week 1 #CommunityMVP for installing his first Little Free Library. The book-sharing boxes provide 24-7 access to literacy for underserved Pittsburgh communities while honoring the legacy in education of his late grandfather. pic.twitter.com/uKwbnz28A1— NFLPA (@NFLPA) September 18, 2020
Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that “inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.”
The installation of the book-sharing boxes marks the launch of the Rufus and Judy Jordan Literacy Project, a new initiative of the Cameron Heyward Foundation that will work to promote children’s literacy and honor his late grandparents, both of whom were lifelong educators in Pittsburgh.
Drafted in first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has spend his entire career in Pittsburgh. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has twice received First-Team All-Pro honors.
Heyward and the Steelers agreed to a four-year, $71.4 million contract extension on Sept. 6 that will allow him to retire in Pittsburgh and make him the highest-paid defense player over the age of 30 in NFL history.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/17/20
The Steelers finally experienced a practice with almost everyone on the roster able to take the field. Only two players did not take part in practice before their week 2 game against Denver.
Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick stood out from the rest on Thursday, September 17, 2020.