UNITY TWP., Pa. —The Steelers had other reasons for giving the team three consecutive days off after the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs last Friday, as the team has been dealing with the unexpected death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake on Sunday.
But the break has come at a good time for other reasons, as the beat-up Steelers are expecting significantly better participation as they re-take the fields at St. Vincent College for practice on Tuesday.
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden dodged a major injury after being carted off the practice field last week and missing the team’s first preseason game on Friday.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday morning that Haden will not participate in the team’s re-scheduled practice session, but only has a contusion, and not a more serious ailment.
Tomlin expects a more healthy overall lineup to take to Chuck Noll field on Tuesday, as he listed just Haden, offensive linemen David DeCastro (soreness, day-to-day) and (Maurkice Pouncey (undisclosed) and reserve tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson (soft tissue injury, undetermined) as unlikely participants.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are working there way back onto the grass today,” Tomlin said. “A lot of the guys that have missed time will at least be working at a partial capacity today.”
Most of the Steelers’ starting lineup was held out of the preseason opener against Tampa Bay last Friday, but only some of those absences were due to injury, with Tomlin choosing to rest most of his veterans.
James Conner, Bud Dupree, Ramon Foster, Cameron Heyward, Vance McDonald, Donte Moncrief, Steven Nelson, Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Stephon Tuitt were given the night off last Friday.
Sean Davis (finger) and T.J. Watt (hamstring) have been practicing, but did not play.
Brian Allen (undisclosed), Artie Burns (groin), Diontae Johnson (groin), Sutton Smith (undisclosed) and Vince Williams (hamstring) could return to practice on Tuesday after missing the game and at least some time at practice last week.
Of course, it might not be the best day for players with recent lower-body injuries to return to work. An early drizzle is expected to turn into isolated thunderstorms later in the day.