By Daniel Benjamin
The Pittsburgh Steelers listed two players on their final injury report of the 2017 regular season: wide receiver Antonio Brown and center Maurkice Pouncey. This is the second straight game Brown will miss as a result of his calf injury. He is still expected to be back when the Steelers take the field for the AFC division playoff game in two weeks.
Pouncey (hip) is listed as questionable. The veteran center did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He was a full participant on Friday, so the days he missed seem to have been a precautionary measure. Regardless, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did not play against Cleveland.
Ramon Foster (concussion) and Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) were both full practice participants all week and are not on the report after missing last week’s game.
Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell not expected to play
According to starting left tackle Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers don’t plan to play Roethlisberger or Bell against the Browns, as the team already has a first round bye clinched. A few others including defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and Pouncey are also candidates to be deactivated for the game.
Resting Roethlisberger and Bell as well as a few other other players makes sense. The team does not want to risk injury to its most important players, especially with Brown already out. That said, the Steelers do theoretically have a chance to obtain the all important home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and a New England loss.
If Roethlisberger and Bell do sit out, fifth-year pro Landry Jones and recently signed Stephen Ridley are expected to start in their places. Jones, who started last year’s season finale behind center against Cleveland, has thrown just one pass in two appearances this year. Jones has appeared in 17 games in his career, completing 59.9% of his passes for 1,071 yards along with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
Ridley, in his first game of the season, accumulated 28 yards on nine carries against Houston last week. The team signed the seventh year veteran after rookie James Conner was placed on injured reserve. Ridley, who topped 1,200 yards while with New England in 2012, has totaled 2,942 yards and 22 touchdowns or his career.
Browns Fully Injury Report
Cleveland listed five players on its final injury report. Fullback Danny Vitale (groin) is the only player of the five to have been ruled out thus far. Of the other four players on the report, starting corner Jamar Taylor’s status is most concerning. Taylor has been bothered by a foot injury since the team’s Week 14 loss to Green Bay. Taylor, who was forced to sit out the team’s Week 15 game, did not practice on Wednesday and was a limited practice participant on Thursday and Friday. However, he did play in 98% of the defensive snaps last week, so unless there is a major setback, he is expected to play in the season finale.
The good news for the team is that running backs Isaiah Crowell (shoulder/ribs) and main backup Duke Johnson (shoulder) are not on the final injury report. Both players were never in real jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game, but they were limited in practice on the first two days of practice before being a full participant on Friday.
Steelers Full Injury Report
- WR Antonio Brown, Calf. Out.
- C Maurkice Pouncey, Hip.Questionable.