The Steelers got a good bit more healthy on Thursday, as eight of the 10 players that missed Wednesday’s practice returned to work for the team’s second session in preparation for hosting the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Guards David DeCastro (knee) and Stefen Wisniewski (pectoral muscle) were the lone holdouts. DeCastro has missed several weeks since injuring his knee in a training camp scrimmage. Wisniewski started the Steelers’ season opener against the New York Giants on Monday night in his place, but left the game in the fourth quarter, giving way to rookie Kevin Dotson, who appears to be in line to start in Week 2.
James Conner also left that game with an ankle injury, but was a full participant in practice on Thursday. Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he would “leave the light on” for both Conner and Wisniewski to return to action. Conner’s participation on Thursday portends a positive trend, though Benny Snell was productive while replacing him on Monday and could demand a greater workload going forward.
Wide receivers Diontae Johnson (toe) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and defensive end Stephon Tuitt (Achilles) all finished the game but did not practice on Wednesday with apparently minor ailments and returned to action on Thursday.
Also back at work were left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who missed Wednesday with an illness, and center Maurkice Pouncey and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who were given Wednesday off.
Steelers Injury Updates: Mike Hilton, Derek Watt Out for Titans Game
The unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers will be without nickel corner Mike Hilton and fullback Derek Watt when they face off against the 5-0 Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Hilton has missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder injury sufferers in last Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns.
Hilton has become one of the league’s best slot corners, and leads the the Steelers with 27 tackles this season. He also has three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
The loss of Hilton is another major blow to a Pittsburgh defense that lost middle linebacker Devon Bush for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.
The Steelers will also be without Watt on Sunday, who continues to struggle with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss time earlier this season. He did not practice this week.
In some positive news, the Steelers will have guard David DeCastro (abdominal strain) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (back) available when they travel to Nashville. Both players missed last week’s game against Cleveland.
DeCastro was a full participant on Thursday and Friday after being limited on Wednesday. Johnson suffered his back injury in Week Five against the Eagles, but was full-go all this week.
Center Maurkice Pouncey (foot) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) were both held out on Wednesday, but returned to the practice field the last two days and are also good-to-go against Tennessee.
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.