Pitssburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is excited for the opener against the Jets.
“It’s going to be a big week for us,” he said.
But as the Steelers prepare to play the New York Jets Sunday in their home opener at Heinz Field, there are still a number of questions as to who will play where.
“We’ll look at the overall health of our team, the plans we have in place and do it at the appropriate time, which is later this week.”
The offensive line, which management made a big case to shore up this past draft, is still banged up. The running game is getting thinner and the linebacking corps is still questionable. That was evident on Wednesday, as a number of key players sat out practice nursing injuries.
Linebackers James Harrison and Stevenson Sylvester did not hit the field, and both are questionable for Sunday. Safety Troy Polamalu (calf) was also on the sidelines, but was expected to play.
Running back Jonathan Dwyer was expected to take the bulk of carries Sunday against the Jets, but on Wednesday he sat out practice with a foot injury. That makes rookie Chris Rainey the only back who is healthy. Dwyer is still expected to play on Sunday.
“Ramon Foster who missed time in the game seems to be fine, as does Marcus Gilbert who had that hyper-extended knee,” said Tomlin of two of his offensive linemen. “We’ll basically follow the same protocol with James Harrison as we did last week with his knee and see how that works out this week.”
Both Gilbert (knee) and Foster (eye) did return to practice, as did defensive end Ziggy Hood, but in limited action. Safety Ryan Clark also practiced after missing Sunday’s opener against the Broncos, but is in good health. Clark missed the game due to a health issue regarding the sickle cell trait.
“We are going to focus on the healthy guys and get them prepared to play,” Tomlin said on Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “We expect them to play on the acceptable level. Obviously this week, Ryan will be included in the bunch.”
Linebacker Jason Worilds, who had a wrist injury but played in Denver, is also expected to play against the Jets.
“I was pleased with his conditioning,” Tomlin said. “That’s a concern with the quantity of time he has missed. We expect him to make a solid contribution to us.”
The Jets, meanwhile, could be without the services of Darrelle Revis, the former Pitt standout. He was knocked out of the game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday with a concussion. He did not practice on Wednesday and Jets coach Rex Ryan only said he probably won’t have live contact during the week.
A number of other Jets also were held out of practice on Wednesday. In addition to Revis, FB John Conner (knee), WR Stephen Hill (Calf), TE Dustin Keller (Hamstring), T Dennis Landolt (knee), and DT Sione Po’uha (low back) did not practice along with OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring). S Eric Smith (hip/knee), CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle) and WR Jeremy Keller (Low back).
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Matt Pawlikowski is a veteran journalist covering all things Steelers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.