The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to go into their Week 2 game against the New York Jets without two of their biggest defensive stars, but it didn’t seem to matter much. A 27-10 victory over the Jets shows perhaps James Harrison and Troy Polamalu weren’t missed much, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t anxious to have them back.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has yet to rule on the status of the two defensive players for week three against the Oakland Raiders, but they are being closely monitored.
“I handle all of those situations really on a case-by-case basis,” Tomlin said, “with the understanding that the younger you are, the more inexperienced you are, the more practices are necessary before I consider utilizing you.”
Tomlin stated that if both players ended up being healthy enough to play on Sunday without having enough time to practice, then they could still play. While it is true that usually all players require one day of practice in order to be prepared for a game, Tomlin knows Harrison and Polamalu can handle the short week.
Some have to wonder if the loss of both men for another week will allow the defense to keep the type of strong pace they had against the Jets. Offensive-minded New York (in Week 1, anyway) was held to a mere 91 total yards in the second half, and that is no small feat against any NFL team.
Polamalu is dealing with a strained right calf and it isn’t the most serious injury, but the Steelers know they don’t want to risk further damage. Keeping him out against teams where he may not be “needed,” so to speak, is better than making matters worse and losing him for bigger games later in the season.
Harrison is recovering from right knee surgery and his status is a bit more unknown, as his injury happened to be somewhat more serious.
Pittsburgh is dealing with a number of injuries on both sides of the ball, and it showed on offense as the team could barely run the ball against New York. After 28 carries on Sunday, Pittsburgh could muster no more than 66 total yards on the ground and that is just a horrible average and output.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall is on his way back to the active roster, but not there quite yet. Back in January, Mendenhall had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL. While he has practiced over the course of the past two weeks, he just isn’t at the place he needs to be for game-time play.
Making matters worse is that backup Jonathan Dwyer is going through a turf toe problem, and he’s been virtually the only one producing any type of running yards for the Steelers. If he can’t go, then production on the ground against the Raiders could be even more abysmal.
A 1-1 record for Pittsburgh isn’t bad at all, considering the injuries that they are dealing with. Having a game in Oakland and then a bye week could be just what the Steelers need in order to recover and heal up lingering injuries, but they’d better hope no more come about before facing the Philadelphia Eagles in early October.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.