PITTSBURGH — Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix has a knee injury that could cause him to miss multiple games, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Nix did not participate on offense in the Steelers’ season-opening loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Tomlin said that Nix was injured early in the game, which must have occurred on a special-teams play.
“He has a knee injury that’s being evaluated,” Tomlin said. “He may miss this game and another, or two.”
The Steelers’ play on Sunday suffered for the loss of Nix, with short-yardage plays hurting the offense, particularly early in the game. At one point, the Steelers had three straight possessions end on an unconverted third- or fourth-and-1.
“No excuses in that regard,” Tomlin said. “We had a poor short-yardage plan and poor execution of it in the game.”
Nix is the only player listed as a fullback on the team’s roster. The only other player that worked at fullback during training camp was linebacker Sutton Smith, who was released. Tomlin said that the team will utilize a player from another position, perhaps defense or tight end, if Nix is unavailable.
“We have some candidates,” he said. “We spent some time, as we always do, looking at options in areas we don’t have a lot of depth. Fullback position is an area that we don’t have a lot of depth.”
Steelers Injury Updates: David DeCastro Full Participant in Practice
Steelers guard David DeCastro returned to practice on Wednesday, but eight of his teammates did not, with at least one new injury amongst them.
DeCastro, who had been out since suffering a knee injury in a scrimmage in the second week of the Steelers training camp, was a full participant in practice on Wednesday in his first practice back to work.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster did not practice with a knee injury. Smith-Schuster was not named among the players expected to be limited participants this week by head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday.
It’s the second straight Wednesday that Smith-Schuster has missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee ailment. He was a full participant for the rest of the week last week and played against the Denver Broncos without an apparent issue.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu (knee contusion) were expected absences on Wednesday, while linebacker Bud Dupree (shoulder discomfort) practiced on Wednesday despite Tomlin warning that he might be limited this week. All are expected to play on Sunday.
Four more players — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward — also did not practice. Their reason for missing practice listed by the team was “not injury related.”
Steelers Injury Updates: David DeCastro to Practice; 3 Regulars Limited
Injured Steelers guard David DeCastro is expected to return to practice this week, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday, while three other players could be limited during the week of work.
DeCastro suffered a knee injury during a training camp scrimmage and has not practiced with the team since. Tomlin said that whether DeCastro will be able to play on Sunday against the Houston Texans will depend on how his participation in practice this week goes.
The Steelers first replaced DeCastro with veteran Stefen Wisniewski, before Wisniewski was injured against the New York Giants and replaced by rookie Kevin Dotson.
Tomlin also said that defensive lineman Tyson Alualu (knee contusion), linebacker Bud Dupree (shoulder discomfort) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) all could be limited in the early part of practice this week, but should be expected to play on Sunday.
MetLife Stadium Turf Draws Ire after Two More Knee Injuries following Zach Banner’s in Week 1
The Steelers victory over the New York Giants to open the 2020 season last Monday night was a painful one, as starting right tackle Zach Banner suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter that ended his 2020 season.
A week and two more ACL injuries later, and the playing surface at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands has come under fire from some around the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers defensive starters Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas both suffered apparent ACL injuries while playing the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, making three season-ending knee injuries on the surface over two games.
The playing surface at the stadium, which opened in 2010, was replaced once in 2016 and then again with new FieldTurf this offseason. That new surface has drawn some criticism from those that have played on it.
“I think the turf was pretty thick,” 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “Guys seemed to be getting stuck in the ground more regularly. A bunch of guys went down, wasn’t real fun to be a part of.”
“I know that’s as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on the turf that I’ve ever been a part of,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan added. “From what I saw, the other team did, too. I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. I think that was the first time people played on it. That was something our guys were concerned about right away and the result definitely made that a lot stronger. Unfortunately, it’s a place we have to go back next week.”
Banner has not spoken to the media since his injury. He said on Twitter that he underwent surgery on Friday.
“Any time you play on turf, you always feel a little different,” Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu said on Monday, but he did not say that he felt the turf at MetLife Stadium was worse than any of the other turf surfaces the Steelers have played on. Alualu said he suffered a minor ankle injury during the game. Steelers running back James Conner also injured his ankle early in the game and did not return.
NBC Sports reported that the NFL plans to look into the turf situation at the stadium.