PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – After grinding out another road win on Sunday in Indianapolis, the Steelers are now faced with injuries to their secondary while preparing for a primetime game against Tennessee Thursday night.
Chief among those injuries is cornerback Joe Haden, who fractured his left fibula during a collision with a Colts receiver away from the ball.
“It could be less than we think, it could be more than we think,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “The reality is that he is not playing this week.”
Despite the severity of the injury, there is a sense that Haden could return before the end of the regular season or in time for the postseason, meaning that the Steelers will not put the 28-year-old on season-ending injured reserve.
“We will leave him available to us in the short term until we get a better sense of what the prognosis is,” Tomlin added. “Obviously if there is a chance for him to participate with our team this year, we’ll leave that light on.”
With Haden out, the Steelers could turn to third-round pick Cam Sutton, who was taken off injured reserve on October 31 following a preseason hamstring injury. If that route is taken, Pittsburgh will be forced to cut a player from their 53-man roster.
Tomlin downplayed the possible activation of Sutton, calling the discussion premature.
The Steelers could also be without another key defensive back in safety Mike Mitchell, who left with an ankle injury. Tight end Vance McDonald also injured his ankle, but was able to return to Sunday’s game in time to catch his first touchdown with Pittsburgh.
“We’ll see as the week goes on,” Tomlin said of Mitchell’s status. “Obviously, there’s not a lot of physical participation to measure, but he has a chance. Same with Vance McDonald.”
Tennessee will come to Heinz Field Thursday night at 6-3, atop the AFC South and having won their last four games including Sunday’s come-from-behind victory against Cincinnati.
“They’re as hot as we are in terms of winning football games,” Tomlin noted. “We’ve got a short period of time in which to prepare.”