Going into what is certainly the biggest game of the year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are considerable questions about which players will be healthy enough to get on the field and which ones will not. This is a playoff game for the Steelers as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals as the Bengals win and they are in. And a key to the Bengals success this year has been quarterback Andy Dalton throwing the football to ultra talented wide receiver AJ Green.
Going into this week the Steelers weren’t sure if either of their regular starting cornerbacks Ike Taylor or Keenan Lewis would be ready to play. Taylor has been out with a fractured ankle and will miss this Sunday’s game, however Lewis indicated earlier in the week he would be ready and in his words “shadow AJ Green no matter what”. This was good news indeed as without Taylor and Lewis it seemed as if the Bengals would be able to have their way with the Steelers secondary.
And then Thursday happened. Reportedly Lewis re-aggravated his hip flexor injury and was unable to practice at all. The question has to be now can he be well in time to play on Sunday and if so how effective can he be?
My take-This is bad news. When I heard Lewis was planning to play and seemed confident he was well enough to cover Green I was much more optimistic for the Steelers chances. But now I’m not sure there’s a player on the team who can cover Green for a game. The Steelers will have to bracket him, play a lot of zone, use safetys Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark to double Green and hit him every chance they get to try and rattle him. I have little confidence in cornerback Cortez Allen to lock down Green for an entire game. The key could be just to pressure Dalton enough that he can’t get to that deep read on Green.
But no matter what I will be hoping that Lewis sitting was simply precautionary and he’ll be out there on Sunday ready to roll. Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and tell me if you think the Steelers secondary can cover Green without Lewis in the lineup.