Injuries are beginning to mount for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the team’s first preseason game approaches Friday against Tampa Bay at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Several players left Tuesday’s practice with injuries, while ailments from other workouts carried over. The team has one more training camp practice this week, 2:55 p.m. today at St. Vincent College, prior to Friday’s game.
“Some bumps and bruises associated with this part of the journey,” Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Hopefully they are minor.
“Guys will be working their way back to us. Some of it is precautionary. Some of it, guys need to be evaluated. Such is life this time of year. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.
“I think that is how we like to spend our time and energy. One man drops out and it increases the opportunity for the next ready man.”
Injuries included Ralph Webb, Ramon Foster, James Conner, Sutton Smith, Trevor Wood, Alejandro Villanueva, Justin Layne, Donte Moncrief, Sean Davis, Maurkice Pouncey, Vince Williams and Bud Dupree, among others.
“All those guys are being evaluated,” Tomlin said. “Hopefully they won’t be out. Hopefully it will be in the day-to-day like variety.”
At one point in practice, the starting offensive line included Jerald Hawkins, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Fred Johnson and Chukwuma Okorafor.
“We’ve got some interchangeable parts,” Tomlin said. “We got a lot of young guys that are vying for roles and part of that is to make yourself versatile.
“Versatility is big for situations like that. We call on guys to show what they are capable of. It’s no different than game day for us.”
Tomlin said that in a game, seven or eight linemen are generally dressed, and somebody has to be able to snap while others have to be able to play guard and tackle, highlighting their versatility.
“You can’t take advantage of these opportunities to get additional reps unless you prepare for it,” Tomlin said. “It’s an opportunity for those who are ready. We’re starting to see some of the guys step up, run additional groups and show what they’re capable of.”
Safety Kam Kelly is getting an increased opportunity at first-team safety with Davis out.
“He has proven to be ready for the opportunity,” Tomlin said. “He’s highly conditioned and making good use of it. That’s just an example of what I was talking about, getting an opportunity to step up due to others.”
Despite the injuries, the Steelers enjoyed another competitive workout on Tuesday, just days before the team’s first preseason game.
The Steelers ended practice with the two-minute drill, the second time in three practices the team closed practice with late-game hurry-up work.
Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges led the two-minute offense on Tuesday, as the Steelers started from their own 38-yard line with one time out, needing a touchdown in 1:47.
Both were unable to score as Rudolph stalled at the 25-yard line while Hodges reached the 10 before time ran out.
Rudolph hit Ryan Switzer twice to start the drill and then converted a first down to Eli Rogers. His third-down run gave the Steelers first-and-10 from the 25, but three straight incomplete passes ended the drill.
Hodges found Trey Griffey twice to start his series and then converted a second-and-4 from the 40 with a pass to Kevin Rader, a former Pine-Richland High School product. He later hit Zach Gentry and Diontae Spencer to reach the 10-yard line, but time ran out and practice ended.
“He’s getting some opportunities,” Tomlin said of Hodges. “Every man here has a legitimate opportunity, particularly when Ben (Roethlisberger) is a quarterback because you know there will be regularly scheduled days off and increased opportunity for others. We are not taking his presence for granted and neither is he.”