Starting right guard David DeCastro practiced in pads for the first time, but the Pittsburgh Steelers had three more players suffer injuries on Monday afternoon, head coach Mike Tomlin announced following practice.
DeCastro had missed the previous five practice with an unknown injury before returning.
Offensive tackle Derwin Gray and wide receiver Anthony Johnson both suffered knee injuries, while outside linebacker Bud Dupree dealt with an undisclosed ailment. Tomlin said he believed all three were able to return to the field and finish, and did not seem concerned about any, describing them as “nicks.”
In addition, a number of Steelers were held out Monday with lingering injuries. Defensive tackle Chris Wormley and running back Wendell Smallwood continue to battle shoulder issues, while right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor is considered day-to-day with a groin injury. Backup guard Kevin Dotson was out again and has not practiced since hurting his knee last Tuesday.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson and safety Terrell Edmunds missed practice again Monday with unknown injuries that Tomlin described on Saturday as also day-to-day.
Running back James Conner and defensive end Stephon Tuitt were both full participants on Monday after being held out of Saturday’s evening practice.
Tomlin said Saturday that the team was holding out a number of players who were involved in COVID-19 procedures. It was later announced the NFL’s testing partner BioReference had a number of results come back as false positives. They announced Monday that all 77 players and staff members in question across the league tested negative.
There was no news from the Steelers on the COVID-19 front Monday, which has been the case since they reinstated running back Jaylen Samuels from the reserve list on Aug. 13.
Long snapper Kam Canaday was also back in action after suffering an injury Saturday.
Lastly, a number of Steelers veteran were give the day off on Monday, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Tomlin said that not only were the off days given for preservation purposes, but also to provide other players expanded chances to prove themselves.
“It provides opportunities for others,” Tomlin said of the scheduled days off. “That’s what we focus on, the younger guys that get an opportunity to ascend within the competition. And get a chance to compete against some more veteran players, and show their metal, in that regard.”
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith Leaves Game with Ankle Injury, Doubtful to Return
PITTSBURGH — Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has left the team’s Wild Card Round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns with an ankle injury and is doubtful to return, the team announced.
Highsmith suffered the injury in the first half and attempted to return to play, but was unable to continue.
He was replaced on the field by a combination of third-year backup Ola Adeniyi and Cassius Marsh, who was signed from the Indianapolis practice squad in December.
Highsmith had been replacing starter Bud Dupree, who was lost for the season to an ACL injury.
The rookie out of Charlotte was the Steelers’ third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Steelers Injury Updates: JuJu Smith-Schuster Practiced Fully Friday, Chris Boswell Limited
The Pittsburgh Steelers are relatively healthy entering their opening round playoff matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, as only kicker Chris Boswell was listed on the team’s injury report as being less than a full participant in practice on Friday.
Boswell was limited on Friday as he continues to recover from the groin injury that has forced him to miss the last two games. He was also limited on Wednesday, but was a full participant during Thursday’s session.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) returned to the practice field Friday after sitting out on Thursday. He had practiced fully on Wednesday as well, but was newly added yesterday.
Defensive end Isaiah Buggs (illness) was also added to the injury report Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday.
Safety Terrell Edmunds (shoulder), cornerback Steven Nelson (knee), nose tackle Tyson Alualu (ankle) and linebacker Vince Williams (quad) were all full participants during Friday’s practice session as well, positioning the Steelers to be healthy heading into Sunday’s playoff game against the Browns.