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.”