PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have ruled out reserve cornerback James Pierre and starting quarterback Kenny Pickett with injuries against the Patriots. Pickett was ruled out earlier this week by Mike Tomlin, and Pierre, who has dealt with a nagging shoulder injury, will miss his first game of the season.
With Pierre out with the injury, it seems likely that Darius Rush will get a helmet. That could lend itself to him getting some significant playing time on special teams, but it also opens the door for the Steelers to put him into their dime packages if they wish.
But Pierre means the team has lost another core special teamer on the season for games. Elijah Riley is missed with an ankle injury. Other linebacker injuries have forced guys off that unit, and Damontae Kazee has been forced off special teams units with other injuries, too. It has made that room a convoluted mess.
Pickett will not land on injured reserve, meaning the door is open for him to return at some point before Pittsburgh heads to Baltimore for the season’s final game. Tomlin expressed certainty that it was not a season-ending injury, and the tightrope surgery he had on his ankle will allow him to return sooner.
Pickett suffered an injury on the team’s penultimate offensive play of the first half. He dove toward the end zone when he was tackled from behind by Arizona defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter.
Pickett had entered the game dealing with a minor injury to his right ankle and had been wearing a brace on that ankle in pregame warmups. Now, he has a walking boot on that ankle, despite speculation from video of the hit that he might’ve injured his left ankle. Mitch Trubisk will start in his place for his first start of the season.