PITTSBURGH — Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu did not practice and two other players were limited as the Steelers officially began their Week 1 practices at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Alualu missed practice with an elbow injury. The Steelers’ starting nose tackle in the base defense and starting tackle in the Nickel with Stephon Tuitt out, Alualu is a key cog on the Pittsburgh defensive line.
If he is unable to play on Sunday, second-year tackle Carlos Davis would likely take over his nose tackle duties, while Chris Worley, who is filling in for Tuitt at end in the base defense, would get more reps in the Nickel, with Isaiah Buggs and Isaiahh Loudermilk also in the mix for more playing time on a rotational basis.
Two other players were limited in practice. Center Kendrick Green was slowed by a thumb injury. Green wore gloves in practice on Wednesday, but he said that was because of the wet weather. J.C. Hassenauer is the primary backup at the center position.
Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was also limited, by a groin injury. Highsmith was similarly limited with an undisclosed injury through the end of training camp, but head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday his team was fully healthy, so it’s unclear if he was limited by an existing or new ailment.
If Highsmith is unable to play, Melvin Ingram would slot alongside T.J. Watt at outside linebacker, with Watt’s return to practice on Wednesday suggesting he will be able to play. Jamir Jones would then be elevated to the top backup spot.