Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro and wide receiver Diontae Johnson both did not participate in practice Thursday.
DeCastro has been battling a knee injury which has continuously sidelined him throughout training camp, while Johnson was kept off the practice field with a foot injury.
While DeCastro’s lingering knee ailment puts the two-time All-Pro’s status for Monday season opener against the New York Giants in jeopardy, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reiterated his confidence that they have the depth to overcome his absence if necessary.
“No clarity as I sit here today, and I am comfortable with the depth there,” said Tomlin. “Obviously an inclusion of David DeCastro in game planning and play is significant.”
If DeCastro does miss the opener, he would likely be replaced by veteran offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, who has earned valuable reps with the first-team offense spelling DeCastro throughout training camp.
“I have learned in my years in the NFL be ready for anything,” said Wisniewski. “It does look like at this point I will be the backup swing guy at both guards and center. I’ll embrace that role. I do believe I am capable of being a starter in this league. I think I have proven that.”
With Johnson’s foot injury appearing to be a new issue, rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool could see an expanded role against New York.
Other than the absences of DeCastro and Johnson on Thursday, the Steelers are relatively healthy heading into the 2020 season.
As for the Giants, linebacker Markus Golden missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, while defensive back Adrian Colbert was limited with a similar ailment. No indication was given whether their absence was COVID-19 related.
Wide receiver Golden Tate, linebacker Tae Crowder and tight end Levine Toilolo were also limited, all battling hamstring injuries.
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Says He’s ‘Fine’ after Leaving Game in Concussion Protocol
Johnson took a hard hit while running a reverse that helped set up a Steelers score. He left the game and went to the locker room for evaluation, with the team first ruling him as questionable to return before downgrading him to out at the half. Johnson did not return to the Steelers’ sideline in the second half.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not offer a further update on Johnson or fellow injured players Derek Watt after the game, but Johnson took to social media to both update his condition and express his happiness over the team’s victory.
“I’m fine,” Johnson wrote. “Great team win though.”
I’m fine! Great team win though 🙏🏾
— Diontae Johnson (@Juiceup__3) September 27, 2020
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger credited the rest of the Steelers’ receiving corps for stepping up in Johnson’s absence.
Steelers Injury Updates: JuJu Smith-Schuster Misses Second Straight Practice
Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro was a full participant during practice Thursday, while wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) did not practice for the second-straight day.
Smith-Schuster seemingly finished the Steelers’ Week 2 game against the Broncos without issue and was not among the players listed by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as expected limited participants this week.
He also missed Wednesday’s practice last week, but practiced on Thursday and Friday before playing against Denver. His status for Sunday’s game will likely be resolved based on whether or not he can practice on Friday.
DeCastro missed the majority of training camp and the Steelers’ first two games of the season with a knee injury, but has now practiced for consecutive days, likely putting him in line to return this Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee contusion) were full-go after missing practice on Wednesday with minor ailments. Both are coming off big games against the Denver Broncos last week.
Johnson caught eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Alualu posted five total tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey and defensive ends Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt also returned to the practice field after a scheduled day off Wednesday.
Center J.C. Hassenauer participated fully on Thursday, but has been added to the injury report with an ankle injury.
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.”