The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers will be down another key defensive contributor when they travel to face the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.
Steelers defensive end Tyson Alualu is out for Sunday’s game, as he continues to recover from the MCL strain he suffered in Pittsburgh’s win over the Baltimore Ravens last week.
Alualu has 16 total tackles, three tackles-for-loss and a sack this season. He is expected to be replaced by defensive end Isaiah Buggs, who was a full participant Friday after not practicing Thursday and being limited Wednesday with an ankle ailment.
Slot corner Mike Hilton (shoulder) and offensive lineman Stephen Wisniewski (pectoral) are both listed as doubtful to play against the Cowboys.
Hilton has missed the last two games with the shoulder injury that he suffered Week Six against the Cleveland Browns. He was limited all week in practice.
Hilton is still second on the Steelers with 27 solo tackles. He also has five tackles-for-loss, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery this season.
Wisniewski was activated off the injured reserve list on Wednesday. He has not played since injuring his pectoral in the Steelers’ season-opening win over the New York Giants. Wisniewski did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but he was limited on Friday.
Tight end Vance McDonald is questionable for Sunday with an illness that kept him off the practice field on Friday.
There appears to be no question that defensive end Cam Heyward will be full-go in Dallas, as he was a full participant on the practice field all week.
Reserve safety Jordan Dangerfield (quadricep) will also be good-to-go Sunday after practicing all week. He injured the quad in Week 7 at Tennessee, and missed the Baltimore game.
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.