On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers held their third and final practice of the week in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. After practice the team issued an updated participation/injury report, which indicates that assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm will “not be available to coach on Sunday” due to illness.
On Friday Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also advised that rookie running back Anthony McFarland and rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson are both “questionable” for Sunday due to unspecified illnesses. Dotson was held out of practice on Friday, while McFarland was out both Thursday and Friday.
“Obviously, being in the heightened circumstance that we are in terms of the intensive protocol, we are exercising all of the proper precautions and not allowing those guys to come to work even though it’s an illness,” said Tomlin, referring to McFarland and Dotson, specifically.
Ben Roethlisberger Expected to Return Saturday
Most of the other Steelers injury- and illness-related news on Friday was positive, however. For one, Tomlin said he expects quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to come off the COVID-19 Reserve list on Saturday along with inside linebacker Vince Williams, offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins and running back Jaylen Samuels, all of whom were placed on the list on Tuesday.
“We do expect him to come off,” said Tomlin, referring to Roethlisberger. “We have that expectation because this week has gone according to plan in terms of his place in the procedure.”
Assuming Roethlisberger is back on Saturday, Tomlin said the team would “have an extended walkthrough tomorrow just to give him an in-helmet perspective on some of the situational things, to put the finishing touches on our work, to allow him to work with the eligibles that he will work with in-game—to have any necessary informal conversations that allow us to have a level of comfort as we push into play.”
Meanwhile, with Williams sidelined all week, recently-acquired ILB Avery Williamson got plenty of snaps in practice. How much he plays on Sunday will depend on whether Williams comes off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, with Robert Spillane’s level of play also perhaps playing a role.
“I anticipate Vince being available,” said Tomlin on Friday. “I’m extremely comfortable in his body of work and level of preparedness that he can work much the same as Ben, so Avery’s opportunities will be based on the play of the others.”
Tyson Alualu and Mike Hilton
As for Pittsburgh’s injured players, Tomlin said he expects to have the services of defensive lineman Tyson Alualu on Sunday, but slot cornerback Mike Hilton is more of a 50/50 proposition, as is Alualu’s backup, Isaiah Buggs, who is questionable with an ankle injury.
“You can characterize Mike as questionable,” offered Tomlin. “He’s been a limited participant all week. We will continue to monitor his progress in the last 48 hours toward game time. I think that Tyson is in a better place. His participation was a full one today. I have very little reservations regarding his abilities or availability, so he is a go.”
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Steelers Work Out Former Jaguars Tight End
• Steelers Sign Linebacker Who Sees MMA in His Future
• Current, Former Steelers Players React to Bengals’ ‘Steelers Week’ Tweet
• Mike Tomlin: Steelers ‘Do Not Miss’ One Former Bengals Player
• Mike Tomlin Makes Revealing Statement About Steelers Backup QB Situation