PITTSBURGH — Steelers tight end Eric Ebron and offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer are still being evaluated for the injuries they suffered on Sunday night in Los Angeles and are questionable to practice this week, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Tomlin was more optimistic about cornerback Joe Haden, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk and outside linebacker T.J. Watt, saying he expected all four regulars that were held out of Sunday’s loss to the Chargers to practice this week and that their participation would be the guide to their ability to dress this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ebron injured his knee late in the game against the Chargers. He usually splits reps with rookie Pat Freiermuth, and the youngster from Penn State basically played the rest of the game with Ebron out. When Ebron missed time earlier this season, Zach Gentry replaced him in the tight end rotation.
Hassenauer was sidelined early in the first quarter against the Chargers after making his first start of the season at left guard. The team called his injury a shoulder issue in game. Afterward, Tomlin clarified that it was a pec injury. Hassenauer had already been filling in for usual starter Kevin Dotson, who will miss at least two more weeks with a high ankle sprain. Usual tackle Joe Haeg replaced Hassenauer at left guard, and Tomlin acknowledged on Tuesday that B.J. Finney could be an option at that position moving forward, as well.
Haden suffered a left mid-foot sprain in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions. The injury was not thought to be significant, but he was unable to practice at all in the week leading up to the Chargers game.
Fitzpatrick has been on the COVID-19 Reserve List since Monday, Nov. 15. He should be eligible to return this week. Players must be symptom-free for 48 hours and then pass two negative tests or wait 10 days from their initial positive tests to return, so he should be back on Thursday, assuming he is healthy enough to practice.
Loudermilk suffered a groin injury in the week of practice leading up to the Chargers game. His injury continued the depreciation of depth on the Steelers defensive line that has Tyson Alualu, Carlos Davis and Stephon Tuitt on the defensive line. Henry Mondeaux became the top reserve on that unit, with Daniel Archibong called up from the practice squad to provide depth.
Watt suffered left knee and hip injuries after colliding with fellow Steelers linebacker Joe Schobert in the game against the Lions. He was seen running on his own at practice in the week leading up to the Chargers game, but was never even listed as a limited participant in practice. Taco Charlton, Derrek Tuszka and practice squad call-up Delontae Scott filled in for Watt.