Steelers Starting Cornerback Getting MRI on Knee


Christian Petersen/Getty Images Joe Haden, #23, celebrates with Steven Nelson, #22, after an interception against the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.

On Thursday afternoon, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held a virtual press conference in which he previewed his team’s upcoming opponent (Washington). Along the way he confirmed that outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered a “significant” knee injury and will not play for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Tomlin also added that there are other “bumps and bruises associated with play” that are still being assessed.

Steven Nelson’s MRI

“I know [cornerback] Steve Nelson went to get an MRI … on his knee,” he added. “Obviously, he was able to finish the game, but it was something worth looking at today. I’ll better be able to give you quality information I’m sure tomorrow.”

Later in the day on Thursday the Steelers made it official and placed Dupree on injured reserve. His 2020 season comes to an end with the following stat line: 31 total tackles, eight sacks, eight tackles for a loss, 15 quarterback hits, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Taking Dupree’s place on the active roster is rookie safety Antoine Brooks Jr., who was Pittsburgh’s sixth-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft (Maryland). Brooks has spent most of this season on the team’s practice squad, getting elevated to the active/inactive roster for Week 12 and the weeks of 8 to 10.

Mike Tomlin: “We’re Ringing Alex Highsmith’s Bell”

But at the aforementioned press conference Tomlin effectively confirmed that rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith will be tasked with the primary responsibility for replacing Bud Dupree. Highsmith was the team’s third-round pick in April, having recorded 21 sacks at UNC-Charlotte. He has been credited with 20 total tackles, an interception, a sack, and three tackles for loss thus far in 2020.

Tomlin went on to emphasize that he is “just as comfortable” with Highsmith as he was with Robert Spillane when Spillane took Devin Bush’s place in Pittsburgh’s lineup, as both players have worked hard for “when we ring their bell…. And we are ringing Alex Highsmith’s bell now,” Tomlin concluded.

As for the notion that T.J. Watt’s performance might suffer with Dupree out of the lineup, Tomlin dismissed that idea entirely, saying, “Guys like T.J. don’t depend on anyone.”

Steelers Injury/Participation Update

Last but not least, on Thursday afternoon the Steelers issued as “estimated “ injury report, having not yet held a practice since playing on Wednesday.

Aforementioned cornerback Steven Nelson was listed as “did not practice” along with running back Jaylen Samuels, the latter of whom missed the Ravens game with a quad injury.

A handful of other players (listed below) were listed as “DNP,” but none were associated with an injury.

QB Ben Roethlisberger
OG David DeCastro
OT Alejandro Villanueva
TE Eric Ebron
DE Tyson Alualu
DT Cameron Heyward
ILB Vince Williams

Meanwhile, Washington’s injury report was decidedly short:

DE Ryan Anderson (knee) – limited
T Morgan Moss (groin) – limited
S Deshazor Everett (ankle) – full
T Cornelius Lucas (ankle) – full

Washington hasn’t played a game since defeating the Dallas Cowboys 41-16 on Thanksgiving Day.

The Steelers are scheduled to play Washington at Heinz Field on Monday December 7th at 5 p.m. ET.

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