By Christina Rivers
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without several players in their Week 10 game at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets. Linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (knee), safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring), cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) all had injuries serious enough that head coach Mike Tomlin opted to hold them out on Sunday.
Shazier battled an earlier knee injury only to hurt his ankle in week nine against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers used Sean Spence and Vince Williams with Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker last week when Shazier could not return to the game. Williams will come in during “nickel” packages. “I think it’ll be fine,” said Williams about sharing time with Spence. “Both of us have some game experience, me getting a lot of it last year and (Spence) getting a lot of it this year. I think we’ll be able to go out there and be more than adequate.” Spence has started four consecutive games this season during Shazier’s absence and has been productive on defense. Both Spence and Williams were utilized on special teams as well, and the style of play the Steelers defense used to beat Baltimore will be continued against New York.
Against the Ravens, the Steelers brought out Will Allen to play opposite Mike Mitchell when Polamalu was forced to leave the game. The Steelers signed safety Jordan Dangerfield to the practice squad on Wednesday, releasing defensive end Ethan Hemer. It is unlikely that the Steelers made the move because they believe Polamalu won’t be back this season, but likely that they want to keep four safeties on their roster should Allen, Mitchell or Robert Golden be injured. Allen and Mitchell were successful together and are expected to start this Sunday. Golden continues to contribute on special teams.
The Steelers have seven players listed as ‘probable’ for week 10, many of whom missed a day of practice for non injury-related issues. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey only joined the team practices on Friday, and although the Steelers included him in the ‘probable’ category, he was limited and isn’t expected to be utilized. Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton have stepped up their game opposite Antonio Brown at the receiver position and are expected to be the main targets for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. To round out the list was Cam Heyward, Brett Keisel, Heath Miller, Mitchell, Maurkice Pouncey, and Jason Worilds.
The Jets will be without starting cornerback Darrin Walls (calf) for the second straight week. New York will bring Phillip Adams and Marcus Williams onto the field, but coach Rex Ryan benched Allen at halftime in favor of Josh Thomas. “You can take those things (a player’s strengths and weaknesses), and you look at what you’re up against,” said Ryan, “and you adjust accordingly.”
The Jets have given up 24 touchdown passes (the most in the league in 2014) and have only a single interception. New York’s defensive backfield has been their biggest area of concern and with Roethlisberger playing at a Pro Bowl level the past three weeks, the Steelers could capitalize in a big way if they are able to provide good pressure with a strong offensive line.
Steelers Injury Recap
- Cameron Heyward (DE, non-injury related)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR, hamstring)
- Brett Keisel (DE, non-injury related)
- Mike Mitchell (S, non-injury related)
- Maurkice Pouncey (C, non-injury related)
- Jason Worilds (LB, abdomen)
- Troy Polamalu (S, knee)
- Ryan Shazier (LB, ankle)
- Ike Taylor (CB, forearm)
- Shamarko Thomas (S, hamstring)
- Ross Ventrone (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