Maybe the tide is turning. Maybe the Steelers injury situation really is turning around for the better. Maybe.
Ladarius Green is off the physically unable to perform list for two weeks now, and he was one of three tight ends in uniform against the Browns. Bud Dupree came off the injured reserve list under the designated-to-return provision, and he played in Cleveland, although it was for just one defensive snap. And in Coach Mike Tomlin's own words, "Thankfully, we got out of the Browns game with nothing new to speak of."
During his news conference today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Tomlin explained the thinking behind adding Dupree to the 53-man roster in advance of the game in Cleveland and then having him active on game day only to play only a single snap.
"We wanted to minimize his exposure to the game," said Tomlin. "We didn't want fatigue and things of that nature to become a factor in his first time out, much like we didn't want that with Ladarius Green one week prior. The game circumstance had something to do even with that plan. I think we had only 14 snaps defensively in the first half, and so that limited the total number of opportunities and thus limited (Dupree's) opportunities. As the game wore on, we just stayed with the guys who were playing. We didn't want (Dupree) to have to warm up again. We'll keep moving forward with him as he continues to work his way back. We've been pleased with his progress, and he's going to be a contributor to us."
Tomlin also clarified the status of Sammie Coates, the second-year receiver who had 19 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns over the first five games of the season, with just one catch for 4 yards since. Coates regularly practices with the team during the week, but then come game days he has been invisible on offense since. In fact, against the Brown, Coates played only one offensive snap, while Landry Jones played 43.
"It's the fact he's got two broken fingers on one hand," said Tomlin about Coates' absence from the offense lately. "It doesn't limit him from a special teams standpoint, as you can reference his three special teams tackles (vs. the Browns), but it does make it increasingly difficult to catch the football. He's healthy enough to play, he just can't catch the ball as cleanly with two broken fingers."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"From an injury standpoint, not much has changed. Thankfully, we got out of the Browns game with nothing new to speak of. The guys who were dealing with injuries continue to deal with injuries. We'll evaluate those guys as we prepare this week, and with the understanding that with a short week, guys have to turn around pretty quickly if they want to be included in our plans.
"Some of the soft-tissue guys – Jordan Dangerfield and Xavier Grimble being two of them – we'll get a quick look at those guys and see where they are.
"I won't declare (Le'Veon Bell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Robert Golden) out for this week. I'll give them an opportunity, but I just acknowledge that the opportunities are fewer under these circumstances, so if they're going to get on a moving train they better do so quickly."