The Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to look like a season of the Walking Dead. The core group of characters are there. Maybe a main character disappears or dies off, while the rest of the cast are a bunch of unknowns.
There's a lot of unknown going forward with the Steelers, who have lost a group of players consisting of both stars and supporting cast over the last few weeks. There have been the usual dings and dents associated with the game, but nothing that screamed "season-ending" until recently.
There are several players currently on the Steelers roster who aren't likely to play this coming weekend when the Baltimore Ravens (who are on a high scoring streak right now) come to Heinz Field.
As Mike Tomlin famously says, there's a "light on" for two players to be available Sunday. WR Antonio Brown has been dealing with a swollen right toe issue. He has said the injury is painful, and we could see he was playing at about 80% on Monday night while favoring his foot. Hopefully, with some treatment and rest, he will be able to practice by Wednesday.
CB Joe Haden has been out for three consecutive games with a high-fractured fibula. It seems the Steelers cannot get him back in the lineup fast enough following a plethora of big plays given up by the secondary.
We previously reported Haden's injury is not structural, so it did not require surgery or a cast. Seeing Joe walk around, looking normal and climbing stairs to an airplane with his own luggage makes us hopeful for a four-week return (against the Ravens). More than likely Haden's return will be after five weeks (Patriots) just to be on the safe side.
He still has to be cleared to practice.
Ryan Shazier suffered what is being reported as a "spinal contusion", which means there is swelling around the lower back, spinal area. Shazier was carted off the field on a backboard after his head collided with Bengals WR Josh Malone's thigh, on a tackle and his head and neck bent back. Ryan immediately went down and grabbed his lower back, but his legs were not moving. Even though he was able to force himself over onto his back, the injury looked grim.
In a statement released by the team shortly after the game, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said the linebacker underwent a CT scan and an MRI at the hospital. As of publishing, he is still in Cincinnati, and will not need surgery at this time.
Mike Mitchell, says he spoke to Shazier and he is doing better, along with Shazier himself tweeting out thank you's for the support around the league. This injury is in the speculative stage, and the area of the spine where he was injured will need to allow the swelling to go down over the next 24-48 hours for the physicians' to get a better grasp on the severity. The fact that it has been reported he is starting to get feeling back in his lower extremities, points to only positive potential outcomes, but again, he isn't out of the woods yet.
Shazier's replacement Tyler Matakevich is also out with a shoulder injury.
On the other side of the ball, the Steelers will still be without T Marcus Gilbert, who is still serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster will also sit out Sunday's game following a one-game suspension and upheld appeal for his block on Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict.
As a result of the injuries and suspensions, the Steelers re-signed their own former third-round draft pick LB Sean Spence, who was last with the team in 2015.