Steelers Injury Update: 4 Ruled Out vs. Vikings

Joe Haden Steelers

Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden #23.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1) are going to beat the odds and leave Minnesota with a victory on Thursday December 9, they will have to get the job done without the services of starting left cornerback Joe Haden (sprained foot) and three other players. As per the team’s December 8 injury report, Haden and fellow defenders Robert Spillane (knee) and Isaiah Buggs (ankle) have already been ruled out of the game, having missed all of this week’s practices.

The Steelers will also be without offensive guard B.J. Finney (back), who was injured during Pittsburgh’s 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. In all likelihood, John Leglue will make his first NFL start in place of Finney, as versatile veteran Joe Haeg remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Meanwhile, if last Sunday is any indication, Haden’s spot in the lineup will be filled by trade acquisition Ahkello Witherspoon, who had five tackles and a pass defensed against the Ravens. Witherspoon was inactive for eight of the first nine games of the season, but has seemingly gained the confidence of the coaching staff in recent weeks, having appeared in three consecutive contests.

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The Steelers on Thursday Night Football

As for Pittsburgh’s odds of defeating the Vikings, Minnesota (5-7) enters the game as a three-point favorite. Moreover, history doesn’t augur well for the Steelers. While head coach Mike Tomlin has guided the team to an 8-7 record on Thursday Night Football, six of those wins have come at home, against just 2-6 away from home. Pittsburgh has just one road win on Thursday Night Football since 2007, that coming in November 2016 against the Indianapolis Colts.

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Steelers Sign Punter, Long Snapper to Practice Squad

On Wednesday the Steelers announced that they have signed punter Drue Chrisman and long snapper Rex Sunahara to the practice squad, this after having them in for tryouts a day earlier.

To make room for Chrisman and Sunahara the Steelers terminated the contracts of cornerback Linden Stephens and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns. Stephens signed with the Steelers on October 13, 2021. Vaughns signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in early September.

Chrisman and Sunahara figure to serve as insurance in case either Pressley Harvin III and/or Christian Kuntz are sidelined for any reason.

T.J. Watt Named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, Again

Also on Wednesday, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season, with the first time coming in the wake of Pittsburgh’s Week 6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Watt was responsible for 3.5 sacks, six tackles, six quarterback hits and a forced fumble against the Ravens, despite spending the week prior to the game on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Watt has 16 sacks this season and needs just a half a sack to break the franchise’s single-season sack record, which Watt currently holds alongside James Harrison, who set the record in 2008, the same year he was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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