By Daniel Benjamin
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt and safety J.J. Wilcox are in jeopardy of missing the home opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Tuitt and Wilcox were among four players listed on the Steelers’ initial Week 2 injury report. Tuitt, Wilcox and reserve offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins sat out of practice on Wednesday and their statuses are currently up in the air. In the meantime, starting left outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who missed the game against Cleveland with a shoulder injury, was a limited practice participant. Hawkins also did not suit up against Cleveland because of a knee ailment.
Tuitt, who recently signed a five-year extension, got off to a solid start to the season, but was forced to leave the Browns game early with a bicep injury. On the first play of the game, Tuitt got pressure on quarterback DeShone Kizer, forcing him to scramble out of the pocket for a one-yard gain. On the very next play, Tuitt edged running back Isaiah Crowell out of bounds for a nine-yard loss. However, he left the game after the play and did not return.
The good news is that Tuitt did not tear his bicep, which was originally feared. It is currently unknown whether he will play against the Vikings as he is considered to be week-to-week, but head coach Mike Tomlin did leave open the possibility of him playing in the team’s home opener.
“I guess you guys know about Stephon Tuitt’s situation,” said Tomlin during his weekly news conference. “It’s really positive compared to what it could be. His injury to his biceps is not season-ending. He was evaluated yesterday, and we’re optimistic there. His short-term availability is in question. We’ll go through the week and see what he looks like day by day. See if he’s functional. See if he has strength. See if it’s safe. And if it is, we’ll let him play. That’ll be revealed to us as we get through the week.”
Wilcox is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol after complaining about concussion-like symptoms on Monday. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer recorded two tackles in his Steelers’ debut. Wilcox will have to pass the league’s mandated test before he will be cleared to resume football activities.
Seven Steelers are Hall of Fame nominees
There is a strong possibility that a Pittsburgh Steeler will be a member of the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class.
Former offensive guard Alan Faneca was one of seven Steelers listed among a total of 108 players who were nominated for inclusion in the Hall of Fame late Tuesday night. Faneca spent 10 of his 13 years in the NFL with the Steelers. The nine-time Pro Bowler was also a six-time All-Pro selection. He also played two years with the New York Jets and one year with the Arizona Cardinals. CBS Sports’ John Beech recently wrote that this is likely the year that Faneca makes it into the Hall after being a semifinalist in 2016 and 2017.
Beech also believes that wide receiver Hines Ward will have to wait at least another season for his Hall of Fame plaque. Ward spent his entire 14-year career with the Steelers and holds the team record for receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083) as well as receiving touchdowns (83). He was a semifinalist in 2017.
2017 HOF nominee Joey Porter, linebacker Greg Lloyd, kicker Gary Anderson along with coaches Bill Cowher and Buddy Parker round out the team’s nominees.
There are 24 Steelers currently in the Hall of Fame. Two players, Jerome Bettis (2015) and Kevin Greene (2016), have made it to the Hall in two of the past three years.
LB Steven Johnson re-signs with Steelers
The Steelers have brought back linebacker Steven Johnson as the team continues to try to improve its roster. This is the second time that Johnson has re-joined the club this season.
Johnson was cut on Sept. 2 as the team trimmed its roster to the mandated 53-players. The sixth-year pro returned for the first time a few days later when rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton was placed on injured reserved, but he was subsequently waived when Le’Veon Bell signed his franchise tag. Johnson will be mainly used on special teams, just like in 2016 when he made six tackles. For his career, he has recorded 63 stops in 63 games.