Pittsburgh Steelers nickel cornerback Mike Hilton returned to the practice field in a limited capacity Thursday, while three players did not participate ahead of this weekend’s monster clash with the Baltimore Ravens.
One of the league’s top slot corners, Hilton (shoulder) missed last week’s win over the Tennessee Titans and had been leading the Steelers with 27 tackles this season. He also has three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. He did not practice Wednesday.
Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert (back), safety Jordan Dangerfield (quadricep) and nose tackle Chris Wormley (knee) were all held out of practice Thursday.
Dangerfield and Wormley did not practice Wednesday either, while Gilbert is listed on the injury report for the first time this week.
Gilbert’s ailment is especially significant considering the Steelers’ lack of depth since losing starting inside linebacker Devin Bush for the year with a torn ACL.
Dangerfield and Wormley both suffered their injuries in last week’s Tennessee game.
Fullback Derek Watt continues to battle the hamstring injury he suffered earlier this season against the Houston Texans. Watt was limited on Thursday after practicing fully on Wednesday.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), tight end Eric Ebron (elbow), center Maurkice Pouncey (elbow), wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva (elbow) all missed practice Wednesday, but participated fully on Thursday.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, guard David DeCastro and defensive end Stephon Tuitt were all back on the practice field following their weekly veteran days-off on Wednesday.
As for the Ravens, running back Mark Ingram (ankle), cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and nose tackle Brandon Williams (NIR) all missed practice on Thursday.
Star cornerback Marlon Humphrey returned to the practice field Thursday after missing Wednesday’s sessions with an illness.
Safety Anthony Levine (abdomen) was limited again Thursday, as guard Tyre Philips (hand) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (concussion/neck) were full practice participants in Baltimore for the second-straight day.
Steelers Say RB Jaylen Samuels Would Have Been Limited Thursday in Estimated Injury Report
The Steelers were off on Thursday following their Week 12 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday evening, but the team is still required to give an estimated injury report in advance of their upcoming Monday evening game against Washington.
In that estimated report, the Steelers say running back Jaylen Samuels, who missed each of the last two games with a quadriceps injury, would have been limited for Thursday’s practice session.
Samuels did not practice at all in the 10 days leading up to the Baltimore game, so his return to the field, whenever it actually happens, will be a positive step for the third-year back.
With Samuels out and James Conner on the COVID-19 reserve list, second-year back Benny Snell Jr. got the majority of the Steelers’ work on Wednesday, with rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. spelling him. Wendell Smallwood was activated from the practice squad, but did not have a carry.
No other Steelers were listed on the estimated injury report as missing practice time on Thursday, though starting cornerback Steven Nelson had an MRI on his knee, head coach Mike Tomlin announced earlier on Thursday. His status will be monitored throughout the week.
No Update for Four Steelers on COVID-19 Reserve List
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not offer any updates about the status of his four players on the COVID-19 reserve list during his weekly press conference on Thursday.
Starting running back James Conner, starting center Maurkice Pouncey, starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt and backup tackle Jerald Hawkins all missed the Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday while on the COVID-19 reserve list.
The list is both for players that have tested positive and players that have to isolate because they have potentially been exposed to the virus. Conner has reportedly tested positive, while the status of the other three players is unknown.
Players that have to go onto the list as a close contact of a positive case have to remain on the list for at least five days, the same as players that test positive and remain asymptomatic. Players that test positive with symptoms must remain on the list at least 10 days.
Tuitt said on Sunday that he plans on returning for the Steelers’ Week 13 game against Washington on Monday evening. He and Hawkins were placed on the list on Nov. 27.
When asked specifically about when Pouncey might return, Tomlin said, “When Marquise gets back to us, he gets back to us.”
Steelers CB Steven Nelson to Have MRI on Knee
Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson is having an MRI on his knee on Thursday, head coach Mike Tomlin announced, after suffering an injury in the Steelers’ Week 12 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday.
Nelson was able to stay in the game against Baltimore and never needed the assistance of trainers to be helped from the field, but with a short week of rest and recovery ahead of the Steelers, his situation will be one to monitor.
Nelson had one solo tackle in the game, a tackle for loss of Ravens running back Justice Hill in the first quarter.
If Nelson is unable to play, his role would likely fall to second-year backup Justin Layne, who has seen an increased role in the defense in the second half of this season while helping to fill in for injured slot corner Mike Hilton. Fellow slot corner Cam Sutton can also play outside, if needed.
Nelson has missed just one game since coming to Pittsburgh at the start of the 2019 season, but did miss time in 2017 when with the Kansas City Chiefs after core muscle surgery.