The Steelers began their preparation for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and for the second week in a row they are dealing with a long list of injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
In the secondary, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerbacks Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace did not practice on Wednesday. Fitzpatrick has been dealing with a knee injury the last few weeks, although he did play against the Bills on Sunday. Sutton has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and while he was able to start against the Bills, he was not able to finish the game. Wallace is currently in the concussion protocol following the Bills game. Witherspoon has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and still isn’t back on the field.
“Many of these will be managed and we will let their participation be our guide in terms of availability,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “In situations such as the secondary, when there are several guys, we are going to have some backups that we are going to have an opportunity to get ready to play. We’ve got days to prepare. We’re not going to seek comfort in that component of it. When you have an opportunity to put together a plan based on known circumstances, there are no excuses in our business at this level. I am excited about putting together a plan under those circumstances and utilizing the talents of the guys we have available. So, we roll our sleeves up and go to work.
“A lot of times we say in the National Football League there is not a lot of difference between a starter and a non-starter other than opportunity. Sometimes when attrition happens the way that attrition has happened with us, particularly with the secondary position of late, it provides opportunity for guys to make that real. Clichés are cool, but guys through their efforts and play making, they make clichés real. Things that we live by, such as the standard is the standard, has been made real by guys stepping up in similar adverse circumstances. With that in mind, we roll up our sleeves and get back to work this week.”
On the defensive line, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi did not practice on Wednesday as he is dealing with back issues and nose tackle Montravius Adams was also sidelined with a hip injury.
The team’s top two tight ends are both injured as well. Pat Freiermuth is in the concussion protocol and did not practice, while Zach Gentry is still dealing with a knee injury and also did not practice.
In addition, center Mason Cole did not practice with a foot injury and receiver Diontae Johnson was limited with a hip injury.
There was some good news for the secondary at least. Safety Terrell Edmunds was back on the field on Wednesday going full after missing the Bills game in the concussion protocol.