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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Steelers finally healthy

The Steelers are expected to have their projected starting defense on the field Sunday against Philadelphia, marking the first time since the opener last year in Baltimore that will have happened.

Head coach Mike Tomlin listed neither Troy Polamalu or James Harrison on the team's injury list and expects both to play Sunday against the Eagles.

The Steelers had their starting 11 on the field together just once in 2011 for the first game against Baltimore. Cornerback Bryant McFadden was among that group, but was injured in that game.

You could argue that McFadden wasn't a starter - since he couldn't get on the field after his return - but even at that, the Steelers lost defensive end Brett Keisel the following week against Seattle.

The next guys to go down were Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Harrison at Houston. Smith was lost for the season - and his career - while Hampton missed three games and Harrison four.

By the time Harrison returned to play against Baltimore Nov. 11, fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley was out of the lineup, having suffered a hamstring injury the previous week in a win over New England.

What does all of this mean?

We really haven't seen the Pittsburgh defense at its projected full strength in quite some time.

That's all part of the game as players age - they become more injury prone - but it will be interesting to see if the troubles the Steelers have had closing out games the past two seasons are solved by having a defense at full strength - or at least as close to it as they have been in some time.

Ziggy Hood has taken over on a full-time basis for Smith and isn't of Smith's caliber, at least not at this point in his career.

Though the Steelers haven't blamed injuries for their issues, it has certainly been pointed to by many, including myself, as a reason for some of their problems.

@ The only player Tomlin listed on his injury report was offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is expected to return to practice today despite a groin injury.


Steve-O said...

I tend to think this is more than just injuries (which is a legitimate concern). The upcoming generation just doesn't strike fear into opposing offenses. Hood is good but not great, Same goes for Heyward, McLendon, Ta'amu, Timmons and the miscellaneous cast of linebackers waiting in the wings. I have high hopes for Spence but the Steelers are due for a young difference maker to get things turned around. Until then the offense will be carrying the water for the defense and we'll be looking up at the Ravens (Gawd that pains me to say!)

Lance said...

I agree with Steve, although I am optimistic of the season if troy and james are in the line up moving forward (the d staying healthy is the concern) We do need to inject some playmakers on the "D" soon. I can see us going d early and often in the next two drafts. It is always a challenge when you do not get a top 20 pick, but I am sure they can get some things done for the d if that is the is hoping the "D" is back!

James said...

Steve, Hood is not even good. when compared to other 3-4 ends and this includes watching him on tape or looking at the stat sheet he doesn't even come close to the good ones.

DAVE said...

When I first read your opening sentence I was giddy with excitement:

"The Steelers are expected to have their projected starting defense on the field Sunday against Philadelphia, marking the first time since the opener last year in Baltimore that will have happened.

Then I realized the result of that game was 35-7 against Baltimore, and it wasn't even that close.

Help me be optimistic!

Anonymous said...

isnt DeCastro still not "healthy"

ibygeorge said...

Our only hope this season is 30 minutes and 30 points, just to be 9-7.

Anonymous said...

^ w t f does that mean?

TarHeelFlyer said...

It is funny the panic I see in the fan base this year. I had this team at 2-2. Yes, the Eagles game was a L and the Oakland game was a W for me, but who CARES. This team is going to go 11-5 or 12-4. I will stand by that.

Anonymous said...

Even with Troy and Harrison this isn't a 12-4 team. 11-5 would be awesome but I'd predict 9-7.