The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will get a significant boost this weekend, as slot cornerback Mike Hilton will make his triumphant return against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday after missing the last four games with a shoulder injury.
Hilton led the Steelers with 27 tackles when he initially suffered the injury in the Week 6 win over Cleveland. He also has three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery on the year.
Pittsburgh will also return defensive end Isaiah Buggs (ankle) who was absent for last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He originally aggravated the ankle injury two weeks ago at Dallas.
Both players were full participants for the entire week of practice ahead of Pittsburgh’s trip to Jacksonville.
Running back Anthony McFarland is also set to be available Sunday. He missed the Bengals game and a pair of practices last week with an illness.
The Steelers will be without running backs Jaylen Samuels (quadricep) and Trey Edmunds (hamstring), and linebacker Jayrone Elliot (illness) on Sunday. All three players missed the entire week of practice.
Tight end Vance McDonald and guard Kevin Dotson are also expected to be unavailable Sunday, as they both remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and have not been activated to this point.
As for the Jaguars, rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (knee) are both listed out for Sunday.
Wide receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring) and cornerback Sidney Jones IV (Achilles) are both listed as questionable.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew II is also questionable after missing the last two weeks with a right thumb injury. He has been limited in practice the last three days.
If Minshew is unable to return, rookie Jake Luton is expected to once again start in his place.
Steelers Injury Updates: Joe Haden Questionable, Jaylen Samuels Out vs. Ravens
The Steelers have ruled cornerback Joe Haden questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, while running back Jaylen Samuels will be held out for a second straight game.
Haden injured his knee during the Steelers’ Week 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He missed the team’s first practice session on Tuesday and was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The Steelers did not practice on Friday or Saturday, but estimated that Haden would have been limited in each of the sessions.
If Haden cannot play, second-year backup Justin Layne would be next in line to play at outside corner, though versatile slot corner Cam Sutton can also play outside.
Samuels was injured in the Steelers’ Week 10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and missed the trip to Jacksonville. His absence will be exacerbated by the fact that starting running back James Conner was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday and fellow backup Trey Edmunds was placed on the injured reserve list earlier in the week.
Second-year back Benny Snell, Jr. should be expected to start, with rookie Anthony McFarland, Jr. backing up. Fullback Derek Watt and practice squad back Wendell Smallwood could provide depth.
Steelers Injury Updates: Extra Practice Bonus for Joe Haden, Who Was Limited Wednesday
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden was limited in practice on Wednesday, which would usually lead to a questionable designation or worse for a game scheduled to be played the next day.
But with the team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens pushed back to Sunday by the NFL, Haden will have some more time to get himself game ready.
Haden injured his right during the Steelers win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but eventually returned to the game. Head coach Mike Tomlin classified his injury among those with “bumps and bruises” but acknowledged that the short week could cause issues for Haden and other players in his situation.
Now with three extra days to prepare, Haden’s outlook for this week’s game seems a lot rosier. If he’s unable to play, second-year backup Justin Layne would be the most likely candidate to replace him.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was also injured against the Jaguars, was a full participant in practice on Wednesday after being limited by his foot issue on Tuesday.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (quad) and defensive lineman Cam Heyward (ankle) were also each elevated to full practice status.
Still out for the Steelers are running backs Trey Edmunds (hamstring) and Jaylen Samuels (quadricep), who missed practice for the second straight day. They remain doubtful for Sunday’s game, though the extra time will give them an additional chance to return to practice.
Steelers Injury Updates: CB Joe Haden Didn’t Practice, Putting Status for Thursday in Doubt
Cornerback Joe Haden did not practice on Tuesday as the Steelers got back to the practice fields at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in preparation for their Thursday night date with the Baltimore Ravens, one of three injured Steelers unable to suit up, with several more limited.
Haden injured his right knee in the Steelers’ Week 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He returned to the game after the injury, but Mike Tomlin listed him among the players coming out of that one with “bumps and bruises” that were significant enough to potentially cause an availability issue with a short week of practice.
Haden will likely have to be a full participant on Wednesday in order to suit up Thursday night. He was replaced in the base defense against the Jaguars by second-year cornerback Justin Layne.
Also not able to practice for the Steelers on Tuesday were injured running backs Trey Edmunds (hamstring) and Jaylen Samuels (quadriceps). They appear to be on track to miss their second consecutive game.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was also banged up against Jacksonville, was a limited participant on Tuesday with a foot issue caused when he stepped on a penalty flag late in the fourth quarter of the game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (quad) and defensive tackle Cam Heyward (ankle) were also added to the injury list for Tuesday as limited participants. Their availability for Thursday does not appear to be in question.
Linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who missed the Jacksonville game with an illness, was able to fully participate in practice. Center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro were given the day off.