If the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday November 21, they will have to do so without the services of two of their best defenders, not to mention a starting offensive lineman and a rookie defensive lineman.
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On Friday afternoon the Steelers released their final injury/participation report of the week, which notes that All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt and starting cornerback Joe Haden have already been ruled out with hip/knee and foot injuries, respectively. Both players were hurt last Sunday afternoon during a 16-16 tie with the Detroit Lions, which featured more than its share of “awful football” on the part of both teams.
Also ruled out is starting offensive guard Kevin Dotson, who suffered an ankle injury against the Lions. Like Watt and Haden, Dotson did not participate in any of the team’s three practices this week and will be replaced in the lineup by J.C. Hassenauer, at least if last Sunday’s game is any indication.
Isaiahh Loudermilk Joins the ‘Groin Club’
Meanwhile, the Steelers will also have to do without the services of rookie defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk, who has been a part of 23% of the team’s defensive snaps this season, per Pro Football Reference.
Loudermilk appeared on the injury report for the first time on Thursday (limited participant) and did not practice on Friday. He’s the latest Steelers player to suffer a groin injury this season, an issue that has been common enough that one reporter labeled victims as members of the “groin club,” a club that has included Watt, Haden, Devin Bush Jr. and others at various times this year.
Loudermilk’s ailment only adds to the stress on a defensive line unit that has been hit hard by injuries. One positive development is that second-year lineman Carlos Davis returned to practice on Thursday, opening the door for a potential return to the lineup, either Sunday or sometime in the next several weeks.
Meanwhile, starting offensive guard Trai Turner was a full participant in practice for the second day in a row and is expected to start on Sunday. Turner departed the Detroit game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
Also expected to play against the Chargers is wide receiver Chase Claypool, who missed the Lions game with a toe injury but was a full participant in Friday’s practice.
Ben Roethlisberger, Minkah Fitzpatrick Remain on COVID-19 List
Injuries aside, it remains to be seen if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be cleared in time to play on Sunday, having been added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday November 13. To do so he will need to test negative for two consecutive days, which explains why the Steelers won’t know if he is available until sometime on Saturday.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has already deemed it very unlikely that free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will be available. Fitzpatrick was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday November 15.
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