2 Steelers Ruled ‘Out’ for Titans Game

Mike Hilton Steelers

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Randall Cobb of the Houston Texans attempts to hurdle over Mike Hilton #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 27, 2020.

On Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) released their third and final injury/participation report of the week and two players—slot cornerback Mike Hilton (shoulder) and fullback Derek Watt (hamstring)—were ruled out of Sunday’s game against the undefeated Tennessee Titans (5-0). Hilton and Watt were the only two Steelers players to miss practice on Friday; everyone else was a full participant, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the first half of Thursday’s practice for personal reasons.

By virtue of being full participants in practice on Friday, it’s likely that wide receiver Dionate Johnson (back), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), center Maurkice Pouncey (foot) and guard David DeCastro (abdomen) will start on Sunday.

Diminutive Yet Durable Mike Hilton

Meanwhile, Sunday’s game will be the first contest that Mike Hilton (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) has missed since he broke into Pittsburgh’s lineup in 2017, having appeared in all 16 regular season games between 2017-19 and all five games this year.

Hilton has been a part of 66 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this season (as well as 24% of the special teams snaps), contributing 29 tackles, with five tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, three sacks, three passes defensed, one interception and one fumble recovery. That is exceptional production for a slot corner and it’s hard to say exactly how the Steelers will choose to offset his absence. However, fourth-year cornerback Cameron Sutton is likely to take some of the snaps in the slot; Steven Nelson might also take snaps there, with second-year corner Justin Layne (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) taking Nelson’s place as a boundary corner.

Derek Watt’s Balky Hamstring

Meanwhile, fullback Derek Watt will miss his second game of 2020, as he apparently re-aggravated his hamstring injury against the Cleveland Browns after missing the Philadelphia Eagles game a week earlier. One can expect the Steelers to elevate running back Trey Edmunds from the practice squad to fill in for Watt on special teams, much like he did against the Eagles.

Tennessee Titans Injury Update

As for Sunday’s opponent, well, everyone who was on Tennessee’s injury report this week was a full participant in practice on Friday, including outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (knee), wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee), tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle), tight end MyCole Pruitt (illness) and defensive lineman DaQuan Jones (foot).

And with wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries back from the COVID-19 reserve list, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will have his full complement of weapons for the first time this season.

Also, Titans starting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson practiced for the third straight day on Friday, and he might be activated from injured reserve to play in his first game this season.

The Titans did lose starting left tackle Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL last Sunday against the Houston Texans. Lewan will be replaced by former second-round pick Ty Sambrailo. Nevertheless, Sambrailo is a potential vulnerability for Tennessee’s offensive line, which hasn’t yet been able to utilize 2020 first-round draft pick Isaiah Wilson, whose development has been hampered by a variety of off-the-field issues, including two separate stays on the COVID-19 reserve list.

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