By Christina Rivers
The official injury report for the Pittsburgh Steelers, released on Friday, showed no real surprises. Rookie safety Shamarko Thomas and veteran cornerback Ike Taylor were able to get back to practice during the week, but will be unable to participate in the game against the Indianapolis Colts. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who suffered a shoulder injury, will also be unavailable on Sunday. Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, who suffered a concussion Monday night against the Houston Texans, was unable to participate in practice and is doubtful to be ready for Sunday’s game. The remainder of the Steelers roster looks healthy and on target for their week eight matchup.
Taylor’s return to practice so soon after a surgically-repair forearm has been a pleasant sign. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said, “You can just tell he’s feeling pretty good and he’ll be back as soon as he can be quicker than (most) people. He’s a tough guy. I was pleased to see him out here doing stuff.” Taylor has been missed in the defensive backfield as Cortez Allen and Brice McCain have both taken time on the field with William Gay, attempting to prevent the deep ball and restrict receivers to the underneath passes.
Although rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier had a setback early in the week with a knee injury that has been persistent, he has been making progress towards earning more snaps, but LeBeau isn’t opposed to bringing Vince Williams in more often at the inside linebacker position.
“He played the whole season last year,” said LeBeau, “and we look at him as a veteran player, really. (Vince is) a young player but a veteran player. We have confidence in him.” Although Williams is listed on the other side of the line from Shazier, LeBeau often slides the linebackers around in different schemes, much like he did with Sean Spence against Houston. The Steelers also have the option of bringing in Terence Garvin to assist.
With McLendon unlikely to start on Sunday, rookie Daniel McCullers’ name is at the forefront to faceoff against the Colts’ offensive line at nose tackle. Cam Thomas hasn’t been impressive of late, but McCullers showed he has the strength to plug the center of the line and keep offensive linemen from getting a good push. His strong play allowed the Steelers’ linebackers to track down the line to stop the Texans’ running game from getting around the edges and get pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Steelers would love nothing more than to keep Andrew Luck on his toes and off-pace and limit the rushing ability of Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw.
When Marcus Gilbert went down against the Texans, Mike Adams came into the game and was able to stave off an active Houston pass-rush. Adams had seen a lot of the bench since losing his starting position in training camp, but his off-the-bench performance earned high regards from Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey who said, “That was huge.” When asked about the offense and how it turned itself around in week seven, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said, “I thought the biggest thing that came out of it, and I think it’s easy to say, when the tide turned everybody jumped on board.” Adams is the likely candidate to start at right tackle on Sunday.
As for how the Steelers plan to utilize their best offense on Sunday against the Colts, Haley said he didn’t want to disrespect Indianapolis’ defense, but that he felt his offense has shown they “don’t necessarily need to be about one person.” Haley explained his comment by explaining that the Steelers offense will be preparing for all 11 guys on the opposing defense at any time in the game. “You have to handle their entire group and their intensity and effort in which they play.”
One way the Steelers will look to keep Indianapolis from digging in on defense is to continue allowing their depth at wide receiver help open options for Ben Roethlisberger. “We have a bunch of different guys that are quality players and for the most part are younger players that are developing and trying to just do the things that they do best,” said Haley. “Without giving too much a way, I think…you’d love to see somebody jump up and say, ‘Hey, we can’t have this guy off the field’… When your number is called you need to step up and make the play. If you don’t, there are some guys waiting and chomping at the bit to get an opportunity to show that they can do it.” Haley admitted that there hasn’t been one guy to show up reliably opposite Antonio Brown, but that receivers have stepped up at different times this season to get the pressure off of Brown and make plays happen.
Steelers Injury Recap
Brett Keisel (DE, Not Injury Related)
Mike Mitchell (S, Not Injury Related)
Troy Polamalu (S, Not Injury Related)
Ryan Shazier (LB, Knee)
Marcus Gilbert (OT, Concussion)
Steve McLendon (NT, Shoulder)
Ike Taylor (CB, Forearm)
Shamarko Thomas (S, Hamstring)
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on