Linebacker Buddy Johnson has been ruled out of the Steelers’ Week 15 game against the Tennessee Titans with a foot injury, while three others are questionable. Outside linebackers Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt are set to return to action.
Johnson, a rookie inside linebacker out of Texas A&M, got his most significant playing time of the season in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings, as head coach Mike Tomlin subbed out starters Devin Bush and Joe Schobert for Johnson and Marcus Allen, looking to spark the team’s sloppy run defense.
It’s unclear how much of a role Johnson would have had this week, though, as Robert Spillane appears set to return from a knee sprain that has kept him out since the Cincinnati game. Spillane was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday and was not given an injury designation for Sunday’s game.
Watt (groin) and Highsmith (quad) were both injured last Thursday at Minnesota. Both were limited on Wednesday, but full practice participants on Thursday and Friday and appear good to go against the Titans.
Cornerback Joe Haden was listed as questionable to play. He’s been out with a left mid-foot sprain suffered against the Detroit Lions. Haden did not practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday, but was a full participant on Friday, and should be good to go for Sunday barring a setback.
Also listed as questionable are third tight end Kevin Rader, who was limited on Wednesday and Friday and did not practice on Thursday with a hip injury. The Steelers could activate Jace Sternberger from the practice squad if Rader cannot play.
Nose tackle Isaiah Buggs was a full participant on Wednesday, but missed each of the final two sessions with an ankle injury and is questionable. With Montravius Adams still on the COVID-19 reserve list, Carlos Davis will likely start at nose tackle if Buggs is unable to play.
Tackle Zach Banner missed Thursday’s practice with a knee injury, but returned Friday and is set to dress against Tennessee.