When the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on Wednesday afternoon, they won’t be short many players. But the players who will be missing due to COVID-19 are among the team’s best.
Early Wednesday afternoon the Steelers announced that center Maurkice Pouncey will be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he joins No. 1 running back James Conner, starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt, and reserve offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins. Today’s game will be the first that Pouncey has missed this season.
First-year backup J.C. Hassenauer—who has appeared in nine games and taken 26 snaps on offense this season—is expected to be Pouncey’s replacement.
OL Anthony Coyle Elevated from Practice Squad
In a related move, the Steelers elevated offensive lineman Anthony Coyle from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement. Coyle, who was a two-time first-time All-Patriot League lineman at Fordham, entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018, signing with the Houston Texans after that year’s draft. He soon moved on to the Green Bay Packers practice squad, and last year he spent part of the season on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad.
The Steelers signed Coyle in April after he played for the New York Guardians of the XFL. He has been on the team’s practice squad all season.
Running Back Wendell Smallwood to Make 2020 Debut
Meanwhile, it appears that running back Wendell Smallwood is going to get his first chance to appears in a Steelers uniform today, as he was also elevated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement. (The Steelers will be without 3 running backs today, including the aforementioned Conner, who recently tested positive for the virus.)
Yet Smallwood has considerable NFL experience. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles out of West Virginia and has played in 52 career games for Philadelphia and Washington. In 2019 he had 22 carries for 81 yards and nine receptions for 64 yards for WFT.
Steelers Coaching Staff Intact
In yet another development on Wednesday, the Steelers announced that special teams coordinator Danny Smith has been cleared to return, so he will be coaching against the Ravens.
Stay tuned for today’s Steelers/Ravens inactives, which should be announced circa 90 minutes before kickoff.
In one bit of good news, Gerry Dulac (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) reports that Steelers cornerback Joe Haden will play against the Ravens.
Haden has had an eventful last 10 days or so, as he suffered a knee injury on November 22nd vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week he was involved in a car accident that the damaged his black Rolls-Royce.
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