Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not rule out returns for any of the five players that either missed or left his team’s Week 5 win over the Philadelphia Eagles with injuries during his weekly press conference on Tuesday in advance of Sunday’s AFC North opener against the Cleveland Browns.
Tomlin said that center Maurkice Pouncey should be able to play against the Browns, but will be limited in practice this week with a foot injury suffered late against the Eagles.
Meanwhile, guard David DeCastro (abdominal strain) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (back) who left early against Philadelphia, will have their ability to play this week determined by their practice work.
“Their availability this week will be determined by the quality of practice and their practice availability, specifically,” Tomlin said.
He also said that fullback Derek Watt (hamstring) and linebacker/safety Marcus Allen (plantar fasciitis) will be able to practice this week and could be able to return after missing the game against the Eagles.
Pouncey was replaced late in the game by first-year center J.C. Hassenauer, who played his first career snaps on offense. Rookie guard Kevin Dotson once again filled in for DeCastro, as he did in Weeks 1 and 2.
With Johnson sidelined, rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool and return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud saw greater roles in the Steelers’ offense.
Running back Trey Edwards was promoted from the practice squad to take the place of Watt and second-year linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III was dressed for the first time this season to replace Allen.
Steelers Injury Updates: DeCastro, Pouncey Full Participants; Hilton, Watt Still Out
Steelers linemen David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey returned to full participation in the team’s practice on Thursday, which should put them in line to be able to play when the team visits the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
DeCastro, who suffered an abdominal strain in the Steelers’ Week 5 win over the Philadelphia Eagles and missed the team’s Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns, had been a limited participant on Wednesday.
Pouncey suffered a foot injury against the Eagles and was able to play most of the game against Cleveland before leaving late. He did not practice on Wednesday.
Nickel cornerback Mike Hilton (shoulder) and fullback Derek Watt (hamstring strain) both did not practice for the second straight day, putting their availability for Sunday in doubt.
Hilton was replaced by Cameron Sutton when he was injured against the Browns. Watt suffered his hamstring strain in Week 3 against the Houston Texans and was replaced by Trey Edmunds, who was recalled from the practice squad to play against the Eagles. Watt returned against Cleveland, but re-aggravated his injury.
The Steelers also got JuJu Smith-Schuster back to practice on Thursday. He’s missed several Wednesday practices in a row with a lingering knee injury, but has not missed any playing time because of it.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited in practice due to personal reasons. He did not practice on Wednesday with a “not injury related” designation, as is his usual protocol. It does not appear that Roethlisberger’s status for Sunday is in significant doubt, though a full practice on Friday would allay any fears that he may not play.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who was also given Wednesday off, returned to work Thursday.
Steelers Injury Updates: Hilton, Pouncey, Watt Miss Practice; DeCastro Limited
Injured Steelers Mike Hilton, Maurkice Pouncey and Derek Watt did not practice during the team’s session on Wednesday in preparation to face the undefeated Tennessee Titans, but two players working their way back from injuries did.
Hilton injured his shoulder in the team’s Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns. Pouncey has left two straight games early with a foot issue. Watt missed the Steelers’ Week 5 win over the Philadelphia Eagles with a hamstring strain that was re-injured in his return against the Browns.
Cameron Sutton would be next in line to replace Hilton as the Steelers’ Nickel cornerback. Pouncey has been replaced by J.C. Hassenauer. Running back Trey Edmunds was promoted from the practice squad to replace Watt at fullback and on special teams when he missed the game against the Eagles.
Guard David DeCastro (abdominal strain) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (back) both practiced after missing the Browns game. DeCastro was limited, while Johnson was a full participant.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also did not practice on Wednesday with a knee issue. He has repeatedly missed early week practices this season due to his knee, but it has not caused him to miss any game time.
The Steelers were also without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who were given the day off.
Steelers Injury Updates: Devin Bush to Have ACL Surgery Wednesday
Steelers linebacker Devin Bush will have surgery to repair his ACL on Wednesday, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Bush was injured in the second quarter of the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns and will miss the remainder of the season. Tomlin did not have a further prognosis on the timeframe that it will take Bush to return from the surgery. Typical ACL surgeries require at least six months of recovery.
Tomlin said that at least for this week’s game against the Tennessee Titans that Bush will largely be replaced by second-year backup Robert Spillane.
The Steelers have two players that will be questionable against the Titans, according to Tomlin: fullback Derek Watt, who re-aggravated his hamstring injury against the Browns, and slot cornerback Mike Hilton, who suffered a shoulder injury.
Additionally, David DeCastro (abdominal strain) and Diontae Johnson (back) are expected to practice this week after missing the game.
Offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski (pectoral strain) is continuing his work in returning from the injured reserve list.