By Christina Rivers
In a highly anticipated and touted game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing the top offense of the Washington Redskins at Heinz Field. Wearing their 80th Season ‘throwback’ jerseys, the Steelers hope that the uniforms will give them new uniformity on the field. News that center Maurkice Pouncey will return has bolstered the offensive line and although questionable, the upgraded status of running back Isaac Redman may also bring extra life to the Steelers’ rushing game. With Washington having some bruises of their own, the game should be an exciting matchup.
Although dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, Pouncey has opted not to wear a medical knee brace on the knee. His fears are that the brace will limit his ability to be mobile and effective. Instead he will play his center position with the support of medical tape. When asked about his knee, Pouncey said, “I had a lot of time off. I went through extensive rehab…there is always a little slight pain, but that won’t stop me at all.”
After a return to practice on Friday, Redman will be listed as questionable, but said, “I feel like I am ready to go. I feel like I can play. I am ready. I really want to play. I have sitting on the sidelines. We’ll see the decisions come Sunday.” With Jonathan Dwyer fully expected to take the majority of the snaps and Chris Rainey in the offensive backfield as well, Redman may get an opportunity to compliment them if he is given the go-ahead. “We keep trying to battle through injuries,” Redman added. “It’s frustrating, that’s why I want to get back there as soon as possible.”
Coach Todd Haley feels confident in Dwyer’s play. In his Thursday press meeting, Haley said, “He’s a big back that is pretty nifty with his feet and he’s shown that all through the preseason.” Dwyer himself said that he has worked through adversity, including a fumble on September 23 against the Raiders that upset coaching staff. Haley’s response about the running back corps was, “They are still young guys that haven’t had a lot of NFL carried…any carry they get is an experience they’re building and confidence that they’re gaining.”
The only players who are absolutely ruled out of the game Sunday for the Steelers are, tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), linebacker Brandon Johnson (hamstring), running back Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf.) Indications are that linebacker Adrian Robinson (concussion) was limited, as was Redman, on Friday. Although kicker Shaun Suisham suffered from a sore ankle, he is expected to play Sunday.
Coach LeBeau praised James Harrison’s recovery and re-entry onto the field of late saying Thursday, “I think he is getting better every week…He missed a lot of football. He missed all the coaching sessions at training camp.” LeBeau added that Harrison wasn’t the only player in that position. “Jason Worilds didn’t get any of those snaps either. Those two guys, you can just see them getting stronger every day. That’s a tremendous help for the defense.”
The Redskins have their fair share of injuries as well. Prized receiver Pierre Garcon will miss the third straight game of the season due to a serious foot injury and safety Brandon Merriweather is out due to a knee injury. There are huge question marks about whether linebacker London Fletcher (hamstring/head) will be able to compete, which puts his streak of 231 consecutive games (played) in obvious jeopardy. Cornerbacks Cedrick Griffin (hamstring), David Jones (Achilles) and Josh Wilson were listed as probable, as are defensive end Doug Worthington (calf), fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) and punter Sav Rocca (right knee).
Probable: S Will Allen (ankle), LB Jason Worilds (illness), K Shaun Suisham (ankle), LB Chris Carter (hamstring), C Maurkice Pouncey (knee), LB Adrian Robinson (concussion)
Questionable: RB Issac Redman,
Out: S Troy Polamalu (calf), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), LB Brandon Johnson (hamstring), RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles),
- Probable: a 75% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Questionable: a 50% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Doubtful: a 25% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
- Out: there is no chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
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Christina Rivers is freelance journalist and photographer with a life-long love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Credentialed with the organization, Christina provides a unique perspective gained through her knowledge and understanding of Steelers history, the Rooney family and relationships with past and present players. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.