Steelers Injury Update: Slot Cornerback Position Remains Unsettled

Arthur Maulet

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Arthur Maulet of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles Richard Rodgers of the Philadelphia Eagles during a preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came through Saturday evening’s 26-20 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions with relatively little in the way of health challenges. One of the few exceptions was the injury to defensive back Arthur Maulet, 28, who is competing to take over as the team’s slot cornerback.

During the game, Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten revealed that Maulet had suffered an ankle injury and would not be returning.

On Sunday morning Maulet tweeted out a message to his Twitter followers, which seemed a little ominous at the time.

But on Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that Maulet’s injury isn’t serious.

“Hopefully he gets a chance to get back out here and present himself in the last [preseason] game at Carolina,” added Tomlin, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The Steelers signed Maulet—5-foot-10 and 190 pounds—in May, coming off a season in which he started five games for the New York Jets. Maulet has also played for the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. All in all, the Memphis product has appeared in 35 games, responsible for 77 total tackles (56 solo), with two interceptions and seven passes defensed, plus one sack and one fumble recovery.

Maulet is competing with second-year man Antoine Brooks Jr. (Maryland) for the slot cornerback job. Initially Brooks seemed like the leading contender to play that role, yet he has missed the past two preseason games due to injury.

The Steelers are hoping to find someone who can adequately replace Mike Hilton (lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency). Right now it appears that defensive coordinator Keith Butler plans to play CB2 Cam Sutton in the slot on third downs, bringing in former undrafted free agent James Pierre (or perhaps former third-round pick Justin Layne) to play opposite CB1 Joe Haden.

The Steelers have also been taking a look at rookie undrafted free agent cornerback Shakur Brown in the slot; Brown saw snaps at the position in the second half of Saturday evening’s game.

After practice Monday, Tomlin noted that the preseason finale is “a big game for a lot of people,” making reference to Friday evening’s contest at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

“It’s the culmination of work and guys getting an opportunity to make a last case for themselves in terms of whether or not they are here,” concluded Tomlin.

Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster Injured His Hand vs. Lions?

Meanwhile, it’s worth recalling that fifth-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster disappeared into the team’s medical tent after appearing to suffer a hand injury during the second half of Saturday’s game.

After the contest ended, Smith-Schuster didn’t seem worse for wear, as noted by Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.

Nevertheless, any hand issue is a potential source of concern for a wide receiver.

Before taking off his pads on Saturday evening, Smith-had five catches (on six targets) for 39 yards, leading the team in receptions.

Minkah Fitzpatrick Did Not Practice on Monday

Last but not least, Steelers All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick sat out of practice on Monday and was seen with a leg wrapped in ice. Asked about Fitzpatrick’s status, Tomlin indicated that there’s nothing to be concerned about.

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