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Steelers Injury Updates

Tomlin: Steelers to Wait on IR Decisions for Heyward, Johnson



Steelers Cam Heyward
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward walks off with an injury against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 10, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the team will wait until late in the week to make determinations about players that may or may not be going on the injured reserve list, especially in the case of wide receiver Diontae Johnson.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward, who is expected to undergo surgery on Wednesday and miss around two months, will likely go on injured reserve, but it’s less clear with Johnson.

Players must miss at least four games while on the IR, and Johnson’s current reported prognosis is right on that line. Tomlin said the longer the team waits to make a move, the more clarity they hope to have on Johnson’s situation.

“We don’t have to make a decision, so we’re not,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “Time affords us more information. I’m just acknowledging that he’s out this week. We’ll take a look and see where the healing is and worry about judgments in subsequent weeks after that.”

RELATED: Steelers Sights & Sounds: Diontae Johnson at Practice, WRs Work Ball Security

The Steelers can call up two players from the practice squad to play each week, so if they are only missing Johnson and Heyward, they may not need to make a move. They also had a healthy scratch at each position in Week 1: defensive tackle Armon Watts and wide receiver Gunner Olszewski.

Each player on the practice squad can be called up three times over the course of a season without needing to be elevated to the 53-man roster, so if the team does not have to deal with any more injuries, it could carry Heyward and Johnson for three weeks with no roster-size impact.

The team has several options as practice squad call-ups, with nose tackles Breiden Fehoko and Jonathan Marshall and wide receivers Simi Fehoko, Dez Fitzpatrick and Jacob Copeland all available to play.

The Steelers playing on Monday night gives them an extra day of preparation, and in Johnson’s case, an extra day of recovery before they have to decide his fate on Sunday.

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