By Christina Rivers
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The Steelers have hit yet another snag in their offense going into their Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field. During the win against the New York Giants, receiver Antonio Brown suffered the loss of a shoe and an ankle injury. Following the game, Brown reported that he’d be fine. This has not proven to be the case. With the Steelers already building a game plan that is short some key players, the loss of Brown is a big blow.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, an inside source has shared information regarding Brown’s injury that is concerning. First reported as a high ankle sprain, the injury is believed to be much more. This puts the Steelers in a position where they may need to lift a receiver off of the practice squad and activate them to the regular roster. Speculation is that David Gilreath may be just the player the Steelers will select. The Steelers did place Derek Moye, another receiver, on their practice squad this week. With Brown absent, Emmanuel Sanders will play opposite Mike Wallace and Jerricho Cotchery will take the number three receiver spot. Sanders will be active returning the ball for the special teams unit, especially if Chris Rainey is too sore to participate. Fantasy owners with Cotchery could see his numbers go above the predicted fantasy score, so he wouldn’t be a bad option in a three-receiver league or one that allows a W/R/T spot. Sanders and Wallace could get bigger stats as well this week as Kansas City has been less than spectacular on defense.
The Steelers will also be without three players who have seen little to no action over the past few weeks. Safety Troy Polamalu appears have made no progress with a torn calf muscle. Tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) are also ruled out for the nationally televised game against the Chiefs.
The running backs situation has changed over the course of the week. While Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) is listed as doubtful, Jonathan Dwyer (quadricep) and Rainey (rib) are probable. For fantasy owners, this week you don’t need to sit Isaac Redman or Dwyer. Both should see plenty of snaps against Kansas City. Rainey will likely be used sparingly.
Linebacker Chris Carter (abdomen) is questionable. While his injury isn’t expected to be a season-ending one, the Steelers’ depth at the position make him a marginal player with just a few weeks left in the 2012 NFL regular season. Once he returns, he will see playing time with Sylvester out, but waiting may cost you defensive points in your league.
No one should panic about having kicker Shaun Suisham on their roster. Despite a nagging left ankle injury, Suisham has been spot-on the past few weeks. He hasn’t missed essential practice time and is still a viable option as a special teams player.
As reported earlier this week, Kansas City quarterback Brady Quinn will not be able to play on Monday night. Quinn suffered a concussion and is still not able to participate with the offense. This leaves the play calling and game management to Matt Cassel. Cassel has been a turnover machine, but not in a good way. Unless you have a three-deep quarterback league where you can afford to have one player in a low-production mode, Cassel is going to have a hard time putting up positive stats against a Steelers defense that is ranked so highly against the pass and the run.
The Chiefs will be without tackle Branden Albert (back) and center Ryan Lilja (neck), forcing second-string offensive linemen to hold back the tide of blitz packages Dick LeBeau will likely throw at Cassel. Guard Jeff Allen (head) is listed as probable.
Kansas City has other issues on the offensive side of the ball as well. Tight end Steve Maneri (ankle) is questionable while running back Jamaal Charles (neck), receiver Terrance Copper (calf) and receiver Devon Wylie (hamstring) and running back Nate Eachus (head) are listed as probable. Knowing that their only option to score may come off of the run, and even that will be a big gamble, Charles won’t sit unless he gets knocked out. He’s their driving force right now on offense. Shaun Draughn may see more time in the offensive backfield since he is healthy.
Defensive end Glenn Dorsey (calf) is listed as out. Cornerback Javier Arenas (head) is listed as probable.
WR Antonio Brown (ankle) – DNP TH., FR., SA.
T Marcus Gilbert (ankle) – LP TH. – DNP FR., SA.
S Troy Polamalu (calf) – DNP TH., FR., SA.
ILB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) – DNP TH., FR., SA.
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RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) – LP TH., FR., SA
LB Chris Carter (abdomen) – DNP
RB Jonathan Dwyer (quadricep) – FP
RB Chris Rainey (rib) – FP
K Shaun Suisham (ankle) – FP
DNP = Did not participate in practice
LP = Limited Participation in Practice – Less than 100% of a player’s normal repetitions
FP = Full Participation – 100% of a player’s normal repetitions
Out = Player will not play
Doubtful = 25% chance a player will play
Questionable = 50% chance a player will play
Probable = 75% chance a player will play
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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.