Steelers Injury Update: Mike Tomlin Talks O-Line, James Conner

Maurkice Pouncey Steelers

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images Maurkice Pouncey, #53, and other Pittsburgh Steelers linemen on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

“We are dealing with a number of injuries. Such is life in this game,” said Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin towards the beginning of his virtual press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Tomlin started with what we already know, saying, “Matt Feiler is on IR with a pec injury,” referring to his left guard, who started the first 13 games of the season, but now isn’t eligible to play until the team’s first postseason game. (More on Feiler below.)

Then Tomlin moved on to mention the names of four other players who also suffered injuries at Buffalo, “whose availability could be compromised, at least in the early portions of the week,” he said.

“Dotson has a shoulder … Okorafor has an ankle … Conner has a quad … Terrell Edmunds has a shoulder,” offered Tomlin.

It’s potentially good news that rookie guard Kevin Dotson has what is now being described as a shoulder injury, as it was originally reported as a pec. It’s also encouraging that—unlike Feiler—he has not been placed on injured reserve.

The news that starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor has an ankle issue isn’t a surprise, either, as he missed a handful of plays in the second half vs. the Bills and had to be replaced by “extra” tackle Jerald Hawkins. In fact, at one point in the Buffalo game, Pittsburgh was using all of its backup offensive linemen, and just one more injury would have necessitated the use of a tight end, or perhaps a defensive lineman, on the O-line.

As for the quad injury to running back James Conner, that’s not necessarily a surprise either, as he was in and out of the Bills game and carried the ball just 10 times for 18 yards, with Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr. getting the other seven carries (for 29 total yards).

But the shoulder injury to strong safety Terrell Edmunds is new information. If nothing else, Edmunds has been incredibly durable over the course of his three-year career, having appeared in all 45 of the games that the Steelers have played since he was drafted. In fact, Tomlin recently said that Edmunds’ “best ability is availability.”

Matt Feiler ‘Did Not Tear’ the Pec

As for Matt Feiler’s issue, ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler is independently reporting that the injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as pectoral injuries often are, noting that he “did not tear the pec,” and “he’s got a good chance to return for the playoffs barring results of more tests….”

CB Joe Haden Could Return Against Cincinnati

Meanwhile, starting cornerback Joe Haden indicated that he expects to be back for the Bengals game, writing: “SEE YOU MONDAY NIGHT” in an Instagram post yesterday.

Tomlin didn’t sound 100% sure that his No. 1 cornerback would return, but acknowledged the possibility, saying, “We’re excited about potentially getting Joe Haden back, who has been in the concussion protocol and is looking to get out of that.”

Haden missed the Buffalo game after suffering a concussion against Washington on December 7th.

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