Steelers Starting WR Ruled ‘Out’ for Browns Game


Joe Sargent/Getty Images Diontae Johnson #18 celebrates his touchdown with JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on September 20, 2020.

On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers held their third and final practice in advance of Sunday’s showdown with the Cleveland Browns. Afterwards the team indicated it will be without one of its starting wide receivers for the game, as Diontae Johnson missed practice and has been ruled “out” along with starting right guard David DeCastro.

With DeCastro unavailable the Steelers will turn to rookie Kevin Dotson, who will make his second NFL start. Meanwhile, it’s likely that fellow rookie Chase Claypool will get extra snaps to make up for Diontae Johnson’s absence, much as he did last Sunday after Johnson exited with a back injury and he scored four touchdowns in a record-setting performance against the Eagles.

As for the other Steelers players with reported injuries, all seven were full participants in practice on Friday, namely wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), linebacker/safety Marcus Allen (foot), fullback Derek Watt (hamstring), center Maurkice Pouncey (foot), tight end Eric Ebron (hand) and outside linebacker T.J. Watt (shoulder).

As usual, QB Ben Roethlisberger and DE Stephon Tuitt remained on the injury/participation report throughout the week, having been held out of practice on Wednesday for a “maintenance day.”

On Sunday Roethlisberger will aim to preserve his perfect 12-0 record against the Browns at Heinz Field. He is 23-2-1 against the Browns over the course of his career. With a record of 11-2-1 in Cleveland he is tied with Baker Mayfield as the winningest quarterback in the history of FirstEnergy Stadium (est. 1999).

Cleveland Browns Injury Update

Meanwhile, the Browns have more extensive injury concerns coming into Sunday’s game, with four players already ruled out, namely: offensive guard Wyatt Teller (calf), safeties Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring), and linebacker Jacob Phillips (knee).

Cleveland also has a half-dozen players who are “questionable,” including wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (illness) and Jarvis Landry (hip/ribs), as well as defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (abdomen) and defensive end Olivier Vernon (groin).

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is also among those listed as questionable, but Mayfield was seen throwing passes Friday during the portion of practice that is open to reporters, so it would be a surprise if he did not start. However, if Mayfield can’t go, Case Keenum is the team’s backup, with second-year QB Kyle Lauletta added to the team’s practice squad this week after the Browns lost Garrett Gilbert to the Dallas Cowboys.

Finally, punter Jamie Gillan suffered a groin injury during practice on Thursday and was a limited participant on Friday. If Gillan is unable to punt on Sunday, placekicker Cody Parkey will do the punting, according to Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Fan Cutouts at Heinz Field

Looking ahead a bit to Pittsburgh’s next home, the team is selling fan cutouts for the November 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Each cutout is $100 with the proceeds to benefit the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center.

Cutouts are available for purchase until October 23, with photo submission guidelines available here.

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