Four Steelers players are listed as questionable for Sunday’s regular season home finale against the Indianapolis Colts, while four players are expected to return from injury.
Inside linebacker Marcus Allen, kicker Chris Boswell, outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. are all listed as questionable.
Fullback Derek Watt, guard Kevin Dotson, running back James Conner and tight end Eric Ebron are all expected to return to the lineup.
Boswell could be in line to miss his second game of the season with an injury suffered in practice. Boswell was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, but suffered a groin injury that limited him on Thursday and kept him out of practice altogether one Friday.
Allen suffered a stinger, which is a nerve injury in the neck and shoulder area, against the Cincinnati Bengals and did not practice at all this week. Allen started the first two games of his career against the Bengals and Buffalo Bills in Week 15.
A natural safety, he was moved to inside linebacker at the beginning of the season and had seen extensive work in the team’s sub-package defenses before being elevated to a starting role with the absences of Devin Bush, Robert Spillane and Vince Williams from the lineup.
Williams was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list this week and is expected to start, along with Avery Williamson. Backup Ulysees Gilbert III was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
If Boswell is unable to dress against the Colts, first-year pro Matthew Wright will once again be elevated from the practice squad. Wright was 1 for 1 with two extra points in his first NFL game against Washington on Dec. 7.
Adeniyi suffered a shoulder injury against Cincinnati and did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday before being limited on Friday. He would be replaced by Jayrone Elliott or Cassius Marsh, who recently signed from the Indianapolis practice squad, as the team’s top backup at outside linebacker if he is unable to play.
McFarland missed practice with an illness on Friday. With Conner slated to return at running back, along with Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr., McFarland may be inactivated even if able to play.
Conner missed one game with a quadriceps injury suffered against Buffalo, but was a full participant in practice all week. Dotson, who hurt his shoulder in the loss to the Bills, was also a full participant in practice all week. Both players should be expected to start, Dotson at left guard in place of starter Matt Feiler, who remains on injured reserve.
Ebron (back) and Watt (concussion) were both injured against Cincinnati. Ebron was carted off the field on Monday night and missed Wednesday’s practice but was a full participant the rest of the week. Watt was a full participant in all three sessions after a scary collision in Cincinnati.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday with a back injury, was a full participant on Friday and is expected to play on Sunday.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith Leaves Game with Ankle Injury, Doubtful to Return
PITTSBURGH — Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has left the team’s Wild Card Round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns with an ankle injury and is doubtful to return, the team announced.
Highsmith suffered the injury in the first half and attempted to return to play, but was unable to continue.
He was replaced on the field by a combination of third-year backup Ola Adeniyi and Cassius Marsh, who was signed from the Indianapolis practice squad in December.
Highsmith had been replacing starter Bud Dupree, who was lost for the season to an ACL injury.
The rookie out of Charlotte was the Steelers’ third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Steelers Injury Updates: JuJu Smith-Schuster Practiced Fully Friday, Chris Boswell Limited
The Pittsburgh Steelers are relatively healthy entering their opening round playoff matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, as only kicker Chris Boswell was listed on the team’s injury report as being less than a full participant in practice on Friday.
Boswell was limited on Friday as he continues to recover from the groin injury that has forced him to miss the last two games. He was also limited on Wednesday, but was a full participant during Thursday’s session.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) returned to the practice field Friday after sitting out on Thursday. He had practiced fully on Wednesday as well, but was newly added yesterday.
Defensive end Isaiah Buggs (illness) was also added to the injury report Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday.
Safety Terrell Edmunds (shoulder), cornerback Steven Nelson (knee), nose tackle Tyson Alualu (ankle) and linebacker Vince Williams (quad) were all full participants during Friday’s practice session as well, positioning the Steelers to be healthy heading into Sunday’s playoff game against the Browns.