By Daniel Benjamin
The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely head into their Week 5 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field without a full squad for a fifth straight game.
The Steelers have avoided a major injury thus far this season, but they have yet to have a full squad available for any of their first four games. Last week, safety Mike Mitchell (hamstring), linebacker James Harrison (illness) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) all sat out due to injuries. Gilbert is the only player listed on the team’s official Week 5 injury report on Friday with a doubtful designation.
Gilbert has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. There was some expectation that he would be ready to go this week—he was a full practice participant on Wednesday, but apparently did not make the necessary progress. Chris Hubbard is slated to make his third straight start unless Gilbert makes some major progress.
The Steelers offensive line has given up seven sacks and 19 quarterback hits this season. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked four times and on 13 occasions in the last two weeks. However, the Steelers did post their most rushing attempts (43) as well as rushing yards (173) last week against the Ravens.
On a positive note, starting free safety Mike Mitchell is expected to be ready to go after missing the Ravens game with a hamstring injury.
Ryan Shazier on Steelers injury report for the first time this season
Starting inside left linebacker Ryan Shazier appeared on the Steerlers’ injury report on Wednesday for the first time this year as he was limited in practice with a shoulder injury. This came as a bit of a surprise as head coach Mike Tomlin previously said that no new injuries were suffered during Sunday’s game.
Shazier practiced fully on Thursday and Friday, so there doesn’t seem to be any lingering issue—which is fabulous news for the Steelers as Shazier has been terrific. The 25-year-old leads the team in total tackles with 37, solo tackles with 30 and tackles for losses with three. He has also been credited with five pass defensed, one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered.
Jacksonville Jaguars injury report
The Jacksonville Jaguars began their Week 5 preparation with 12 players listed on their initial injury report, which listed four new players, including wide receiver Marqise Lee. On Friday, the Jags’ injury list was down to five players with reserve linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee) already ruled out for a third straight week.
Lee (ribs) and starting center Brandon Linder (illness) are the Jaguars’ biggest injury concerns. Both players were limited practice participants on Friday and are among the four players listed as questionable by the team.
Lee was injured in the Jags’ Week 4 overtime loss to the New York Jets when he was tackled by linebacker Demario Davis in the fourth quarter. Lee caught two passes for 18 yards last week. He is second on the team with 13 receptions for 159 yards, however, he also is tied for the NFL lead with four dropped passes. If Lee can’t go against the Steelers, Arrelious Benn will likely start in his place and Max McCaffrey is expected to see some snaps for the first time this year. Benn has one reception on the season.
Linder, who signed the largest contract ever given to a center this summer, has led a much improved offensive line this season. Jacksonville’s offensive line has given up the fewest sacks in the league (three) and have allowed the sixth fewest quarterback hits (18). The Jags also have run for the second-most yards on the season (593), though they are just 13th in yards per carry (4.3). They have had 10 rushing plays that have netted negative yards.
Linder is expected to be a game time decision and if he can’t go, backup Tyler Shatley will get the start.
Pittsburgh Steelers full injury report
T Marcus Gilbert (Hamstring). Doubtful.