Wednesday, September 12, 2018
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be a little short-handed as they prepare for their home opener against Kanas City.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, cornerback Joe Haden and guard David DeCastro could all miss practice time after getting dinged up in a season-opening tie in Cleveland.
Roethlisberger is dealing with a right (throwing) elbow issue, Haden has a hamstring problem and DeCastro fractured one of his hands during the four-hour marathon in a monsoon.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he will monitor their participation before making any sort of judgment on whether they will be available when the Chiefs (1-0) visit Heinz Field.
The injuries don’t appear to be serious, with Haden the most likely candidate to sit out if his hamstring doesn’t recover in time.
Tomlin described Roethlisberger’s achy elbow the byproduct of “the bumps and bruises associated with play.”
Roethlisberger raised his concerns after the bizarre 21-21 tie in Cleveland, a game in which the 36-year-old turned the ball over five times, three on interceptions and twice on fumbles. Tomlin said Roethlisberger’s elbow had nothing to do with the miscues.
DeCastro fractured his hand during the game but did not miss a play. The All-Pro cleared the way for a pair of touchdown runs by second-year running back James Conner, including a textbook kickout block on Conner’s 22-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
If Haden is unable to play, the Steelers will turn to Cam Sutton to fill the void. Sutton grabbed his first career NFL interception when he picked off Tyrod Taylor’s lob late in the fourth quarter. Sutton’s play was part of what Tomlin described as a “very positive” performance by his team’s restructured secondary.
Tomlin also praised the new alignment at outside linebacker of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. The two switched sides during the offseason, with Dupree set up to go at the quarterback’s blind side. The two combined for five of Pittsburgh’s seven sacks, four of them going to Watt.
The Steelers are also planning to get ready for Kansas City without All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, who remains out while waiting to sign his one-year franchise tender.
Tomlin said he has not had any contact with Bell, who has dominated the Chiefs during his career. He is averaging 126.8 yards rushing against Kansas City in four regular-season games and racked up 170 yards in a divisional round win two years ago.
Conner filled in capably for Bell in Cleveland, piling up 192 total yards on 36 touches. Tomlin is not concerned about relying too heavily on Conner, pointing out Conner was a workhorse during his college career at the University of Pittsburgh.
“That’s one of the things that made him attractive,” Tomlin said.