Wide receiver Diontae Johnson and outside linebacker T.J. Watt were both full participants at practice on Thursday, a very strong sign for their participation this Sunday when the Steelers visit the Green Bay Packers, but two other players saw their statuses trending in the wrong direction.
Johnson, who injured his right knee in the final play of the Steelers’ Week 2 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and missed Week 3 against Cincinnati, was limited in practice on Wednesday but was upgraded to full participation on Thursday.
The same goes for Watt, who suffered a groin injury in the first half against the Raiders and did not return.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also saw his participation increase. Smith-Schuster was injured just before half against Cincinnati, and that rib injury had him out of practice on Wednesday, but he returned in a limited fashion on Thursday. He will have to at least repeat that performance on Friday to have a chance to play against the Packers.
If Smith-Schuster is unable to play, Ray-Ray McCloud is the likely recipient of additional reps in the slot, though James Washington could see extra time, as well, with Johnson moving to the slot.
Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (groin) was also limited for the second straight day and appears questionable at best to play at this point. Melvin Ingram would start opposite Watt if he cannot play. Derrek Tuszka will provide depth.
Wide receiver Chase Claypool was a new addition to the injury report on Thursday. Claypool was listed as limited with a hamstring injury and his status is certainly worth monitoring going forward. Washington is the top backup at outside receiver if Claypool cannot play, with Cody White a strong possibility to once again be a gameday call up from the practice squad.
Also seeing their stock drop was guard Rashaad Coward. Coward was listed as limited with an ankle injury on Wednesday and did not work Thursday while being seen at practice in a walking boot. Coward seems unlikely to dress on Sunday. B.J. Finney is the No. 3 guard, and backup tackle Joe Haeg can also play guard.
Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor missed practice for the second straight day and remains in the concussion protocol. Haeg or Zach Banner, if he is able to return from the injured reserve list, would be in line to replace Okorafor.
Nose takle Carlos Davis (knee) also did not practice and appears to be set to miss his third straight game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left pec) was a full participant on Thursday.