Levi Brown’s tenure at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers is over before it even began.
The Steelers placed Brown on injured reserve on Tuesday, two days after Brown tore a triceps while warming up before a 19-6 victory over the Jets. Brown, acquired from the Arizona Cardinals last week, will need surgery and is done for the year.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin called the injury “freakish” in its timing.
“I’ve been in this league a number of years and this is probably only the second time I’ve ever been around that,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers (1-4) also lost tight end David Johnson for the year with a wrist injury. This is the second straight season Johnson is headed to the injured reserve. Johnson didn’t even play in 2012 due to a torn ACL in his right knee.
Pittsburgh filled out its roster by signing free agent tight end Richard Gordon and promoted cornerback Isaiah Green to the practice squad and Tomlin didn’t rule out the prospect of both players seeing time on Sunday when the Steelers face rival Baltimore (3-3) looking to win consecutive games for the first time in 11 months.
While Johnson and Brown are gone, linebacker Sean Spence is back. More than a year after suffering a catastrophic left knee injury in the final game of the 2012 preseason, Spence has been activated off the physically unable to perform list and will work in a limited capacity, a stunning comeback for the former third-round pick whose career was in jeopardy after tearing two ligaments and dislocating his kneecap.
Tomlin allowed it is possible Spence could play at some point this season.
“We’ll see how he performs in practice and kind of let that be our guide in terms of how we progress,” Tomlin said.
Injuries to Larry Foote and Kion Wilson forced rookie Vince Williams to play alongside Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker and Spence was considered the eventual heir apparent to Foote when Pittsburgh grabbed Spence with the 86th overall pick of the 2012 draft.
Spence has spent the last four months either watching practice or working out on an adjoining field with other injured players.
His presence in a helmet and a jersey should send a jolt through a defense that started to look like its old self against the Jets.
The Steelers put together three sacks and forced two turnovers and despite a substandard September ranks sixth in yards allowed.