Playing without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for 4 games couldn’t derail the Steelers’ season. Neither could a ridiculous fine on James Harrison, and his threat to retire because of it. But injuries just might.
The Steelers lost defensive end Aaron Smith to a torn tricep muscle on Sunday. Smith is likely out for the remainder of the year.
The Steelers were already playing without Brett Keisel, their other starting defensive end. Keisel missed Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury. Nick Eason started on Sunday in place of Keisel, and Ziggy Hood will now have to replace Smith. The Steelers are running out of defensive linemen.
The Steelers also had to play without LaMarr Woodley and Flozell Adams for a part of Sunday’s game. Woodley injured his hamstring and was replaced by rookie Jason Worilds. Flozell Adams suffered a sprained ankle and also had to leave the game. It has not yet been determined if either Woodley or Adams will be able to play on Sunday.
We all remember what injuries did to the Steelers last year. The loss of Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith had a devastating effect on the Steelers’ 2009 season. Hopefully, injuries won’t have the same impact on 2010.
The Steelers’ only loss this season was partially due to injuries. The Steelers barely lost to the Baltimore Ravens. However, the Steelers had to play Charlie Batch at quarterback that game. Batch was the 4th string quarterback. But injuries to Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon (along with Big Ben’s suspension) thrust Batch into the starting job. Without those injuries, the Steelers would have probably won that game.
The Steelers’ offensive line is also getting a bit thin. Flozell Adams was brought in due to an injury to Willie Colon. Doug Legursky has been playing right guard due to an injury to Trai Essex. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu has also missed a game this season due to an injury.
Head coach Mike Tomlin maintains that “the standard is the standard”, and that he expects back-up players to play at the same level as the starters. However, they’re back-ups for a reason. They’re not as good as the starters.
The Steelers are still ranked #1 in most NFL Power Rankings. They continue to win, despite adversity. However, if things continue to go the way they’ve been going, injuries may do to the Steelers what opponents haven’t been able to do.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.
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