Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers made sure that it was a good day for all of Steeler Nation. Wide receiver Mike Wallace ended his holdout and signed his $2.7 million tender and linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds were activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Both Harrison and Worilds were sidelined throughout the entire length of training camp with a knee injury and a wrist injury respectively. Harrison hopes to play in the season opener versus the Denver Broncos, while Worilds’ timetable to get back on the field is uncertain.
These recent actions give the Steelers organization reason to be optimistic with the start of the regular season less than two weeks away. However, the reality of the overall picture is that Pittsburgh will have a significant number of players on the 53-man roster that will be injured for a reasonable amount of time.
First there’s running back Rashard Mendenhall and nose tackle Casey Hampton. Both players had reconstructive knee surgery in January, and were activated from the PUP list less than two weeks ago.
Mendenhall may play in late September or early October, depending on how productive the running game is. I’m assuming that Hampton will be able to go around the same time. If he weren’t, the Steelers would have just kept him on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season.
Then there is linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. Sylvester is expected to miss three to four weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee. This injury is probably what prompted the activation of Harrison and Worilds.
Next are two players that are expected to start in the regular season opener; quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive tackle Max Starks. Though Roethlisberger says that it isn’t an issue, he does have a partially torn rotator cuff. As for Starks, he’s had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, just like Mendenhall and Hampton.
Finally, there is rookie guard David DeCastro. The first-round draft pick suffered a torn MCL, dislocated knee, and damage to his patellar tendon against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason. Its safe to say that DeCastro won’t be returning any time soon, but there is a remote chance of him being able to play late in the season.
With the exception of DeCastro, each one of these players are shoe-ins for a spot on the 53-man roster. Having so many injuries to so many key players so early in the season definitely makes matters tough for the Steelers.
I hope that the team plays well enough at the start of the season, and no one is needed to play earlier than needed. With so many positions lacking depth due to injury, Pittsburgh can’t afford to add another player to their list of wounded soldiers.
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