As was expected, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t be the only Steelers starter to not play this Sunday in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Mike Tomlin plans on also resting some of the other veterans in defensive tackle Cam Heyward, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and center Maurkice Pouncey.
In addition to Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers will not play C Maurkice Pouncey, OLB T.J. Watt and DE Cam Heyward against the Browns on Sunday.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) December 31, 2020
With his 53 tackles, 15 sacks and two forced fumbles, Watt is a leading contender for NFL Defensive Player of the Year but with the AFC North and a playoff spot already clinched, the Steelers are taking a safe approach as the injury risk outweighs any other considerations to chance Watt and the others playing.
As we get closer to Sunday, it’s expected that Tomlin will also make the decision to sit other players that are too valuable to risk or that have been battling injuries throughout the season. Wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster, offensive guard David DeCastro, cornerback Joe Haden and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick are likely candidates to get the week off.
Another thing to consider is that the Steelers were the only NFL team to technically not have a bye week because of COVID-19 issues on both the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans, the week they were scheduled to play.