Entering Sunday’s AFC North showdown against the Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers were especially banged up of the defensive side of the ball, with T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith—among others—held out due to injury. In the wake of today’s 24-10 loss to Cincinnati, the team is also hurting on offense, with three of 11 starters forced out of the game due to a variety of issues. That includes rookie center Kendrick Green, who left the contest with a left knee injury.
Green’s Knee Injury Not ‘Too Serious’
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, that knee injury “doesn’t appear too serious,” as “initial evaluation shows he’s dealing with a bone bruise,” per her source.
That’s good news considering that another starting offensive lineman—right tackle Chuks Okorafor—also had to leave Sunday’s game.
According to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Okorafor has a concussion and is in the concussion protocol.
If neither lineman is able to play next week, the Steelers would likely start J.C. Hassenauer at center and Joe Haeg at right tackle, as those were their replacements today. That is, unless Zach Banner is ready to return from his knee injury. Banner started the season on injured reserve but is eligible to come off the Reserve/Injured list this week and play next Sunday against the Green Bay Packers—assuming he’s healthy enough to do so.
In that regard, he’s in the same boat as defensive end Stephon Tuitt and backup running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who were added to the injured reserve list at the same time.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster Still ‘Being Evaluated’
Meanwhile, there is still no news on wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, not since he was ruled out of the Bengals game with a rib injury, per Burt Lauten, the Steelers’ director of communications.
Smith-Schuster had three catches for 25 yards on four targets before leaving the contest. In the first three games of the year, he has 13 receptions for 118 yards and one rushing touchdown.
With Smith-Schuster hurt and Diontae Johnson having missed the game due to a knee injury, Pittsburgh got pretty far into its receiving depth on Sunday. Primary kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud was targeted four times as a wide receiver and authored three catches for 33 yards. Meanwhile, Cody White—who was elevated from the practice squad on Sept. 25—added two receptions for 17 yards.
However, most of Ben Roethlisberger’s passes were directed at either running back Najee Harris or wide receiver Chase Claypool, who were targeted 19 times and 15 times, respectively. Harris led the receiving parade with 14 catches for 102 yards while Claypool added nine receptions for 96 yards.
Rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth caught three passes for 22 yards and enjoyed his first career touchdown catch, which came on a short pass from Roethlisberger.
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