On Tuesday Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held his weekly press conference at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and provided an update on the injury status of various players.
Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu
Two of the most notable in-game injuries suffered against the Baltimore Ravens were to defensive linemen Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu. Tomlin said their availability for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys would be determined by “their ability to work [in practice] this week and the quality of that work.”
Tomlin went on to say that “we’re more optimistic about Cam Heyward,” while he described Alualu’s situation as “wait-and-see.” Meanwhile, “Mike Hilton continues to work his way back from his shoulder injury,” Tomlin said.
As to who will replace Heyward and Alualu in the lineup if one or both can’t go against the Cowboys, Tomlin said, “We’ll be calling on a number of our guys who have made up the depth at that position. They’ll have an opportunity to rise up and play quality ball for us.
“We’re going to have an opportunity with guys like Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux and maybe even Carlos Davis having an opportunity to rise up for us this week in potential replacement,” said Tomlin. Davis is a rookie seventh-round draft pick who has been inactive for every game this year.
At the moment, Chris Wormley isn’t an option, as he was placed on injured reserve this past Saturday and won’t be available for at least two more games.
Linebacker Ulysees Gilbert
Mike Tomlin was also asked about the status of linebacker Ulysees Gillbert III, who played a role in replacing Devin Bush in the one game in which he appeared (versus the Tennessee Titans). Gilbert—who has a history of back issues—missed the Ravens game and Tomlin didn’t sound optimistic about the prospect of him being available against Dallas.
“We’ll see,” said Tomlin. “It depends on how his back behaves.”
Gilbert’s back issues may have played a role in the team’s decision to trade for Jets ILB Avery Williamson.
OL Stefen Wisniewski
Meanwhile, Tomlin didn’t have much to say about Stefen Wisniewski’s injury status either. The veteran offensive lineman has been on injured reserve since getting hurt in the season-opener against the New York Giants. Wisniewski returned to practice on October 14; he must be activated by Wednesday, otherwise he has to remain on IR for the remainder of the season.
When asked about whether the Steelers have to make a decision on Wisniewski this week, Tomlin simply stated: “We do, and we will.”
The Steelers & Ravens and COVID-19
Predictably, Tomlin was also asked about COVID-19, as Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens received a positive test result on Monday, just a day after the Steelers beat Baltimore, 28-24.
All of Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 test results reportedly came back negative on Tuesday, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
But the Steelers are by no means out of the woods in terms of potential exposure from the Ravens. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Baltimore has reportedly placed seven players on its COVID-19 list, including “six who had game day contact with Marlon Humphrey.”
Asked if COVID-19 protocols would affect his team’s preparation for the Cowboys, Tomlin said, “It won’t be an excuse in any way, I’ll say that. We’ve acknowledged from the onset of this thing that we’ve got to have a hardcore plan but we have to be light on our feet.
“We won’t be doing a whole lot of talking about the labor pains associated with this journey this week,” he added. “We’ll be concerned about the performance that’s on the other end of it.”
Derek Watt and Jordan Dangerfield
In one bit of decidedly good news, Tomlin noted that both fullback Derek Watt and safety Jordan Dangerfield are expected to be back at practice tomorrow “without restrictions,” so barring any setbacks both should be available to play against the Cowboys.
You can watch Tomlin’s press conference in its entirety here:
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