The Steelers’ playoff hopes may come down to what the Jaguars do at quarterback against the Tennessee Titans. If Pittsburgh wants to make the playoffs, the Jaguars losing seems like a must. But Trevor Lawrence’s shoulder injury is looming over the entire game. The Titans will go with Ryan Tannehill, who is taking over for the injured Will Levis. But Lawrence, with a sprained throwing shoulder, is a true game-time decision.
He started throwing but has yet to throw in a ramped-up fashion that he will in a game. As such, head coach Doug Pederson did not commit to Lawrence playing, instead assuming that he will be a critical game-time decision. If he can not play, C.J. Beathard will start.
“No, if he’s good to go, he’s good to go,” Pederson said. “I don’t want to say cautious, but he’ll just have to know that he’ll try to do anything he can to protect himself. At the same time, if he’s out there, he’s rolling and we’ll go play.”
NFL insider Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said on Thursday that it doesn’t seem likely to him that Lawrence will be able to play.
“It does seem like where Trevor Lawrence is at right now is throwing a little bit and trying to feel better,” Rapoport said. “Which really is not a great place to be when you’re talking about Thursday before what is essentially a playoff game, need to win. … The fact that Trevor Lawrence is not participating fully, the fact that he’s still trying to throw and see how he is, to me, just kind of reading the tea leaves here, it doesn’t seem like he’s in a great position to play.”
The Steelers’ playoff chances could ride on that outcome. They have five potential paths to the playoffs, and two of them involve a Jaguars loss. The Steelers get in a with a win and a Jacksonville loss or tie. They also advance with a Jacksonville loss, a Denver Broncos win over the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Colts and Texans ending in any result other than tie.