By Danny Cox
The Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping to build on an impressive 4-2 record to start the 2016 regular season, but they knew that facing off with the New England Patriots would be a serious challenge. Unfortunately, they are going to be facing off against Tom Brady and the Pats while missing a number of key players, and that could cause some big problems.
Pittsburgh’s injury report for Week 7 is not overly long, but the bad thing is that all of the players listed on it are in one category – Out. Ben Roethlisberger is out of course, and that is leading to Landry Jones starting in his place, but this is only the beginning of the bad news.
Both Offense And Defense Hurting
On offense, the Steelers are just missing far too many players to really bring about the intensity and high-scoring offense they had earlier this season. Obviously, the loss of Roethlisberger is hard to take even though there is a lot of faith in Jones who has proven himself in past years. It’s just that he’s dealing with an offense that will be without a number of other key components.
Pittsburgh is going to be without wide receiver Markus Wheaton who is out with a knee injury, and starting running back DeAngelo Williams continues to be out as well with an ankle problem. Neither of them practiced this entire week, which means turning to Le’Veon Bell out of the backfield and more from Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown in the running game.
Defensively, Pitt is hurting as well and will look for others to step up their game. Safety Shamarko Thomas is a key back-up in the secondary, but a groin injury is keeping him sidelined. Defensive end Cameron Heyward has a hamstring injury which held him out of practice all week. This means the team will look to Ricardo Mathews as the starter.
Pats Looking Quite Healthy, But A Few Key Names Are Banged Up
The Patriots actually have a pretty lengthy injury report, but they don’t have a single player listed as out or even doubtful. All of their names are on the questionable list, which may have some seen as game-time decisions. Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) has become a huge target for Tom Brady so far this season and he was limited in practice all week, but should play against the Steelers.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman was in the same position with a foot injury that kept him limited in practice, but he’ll be ready to play. The only real question mark is running back Brandon Bolden, who was held out of practice on Friday with a knee injury. D.J. Foster could fill in for him as needed.
- (QB) Ben Roethlisberger (Left Knee) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (T) Marcus Gilbert (Ankle) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (DE) Cameron Heyward (Hamstring) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (C) Cody Wallace (Knee) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (RB) DeAngelo Williams (Knee) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (WR) Markus Wheaton (Shoulder) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (S) Shamarko Thomas (Groin) – Did Not Participate In Practice