The Steelers 2011 bye week is right around the corner in week 11 and what a welcomed sight it will be. Every team goes through injuries and the Steelers certainly have had their share of them this year with the lines and linebacker position taking the hardest hits thus far.
As the Steelers head into their week 10 against the Bengals, they will likely do so without their sack leader LaMarr Woodley. Tomlin tried to paint an optimistic picture today during his press conference, but I do not see Woodley returning until after the bye with the bad hamstring injury. I suggested just after the injury happened that I hoped he would be held out until the week 12 game against the Chiefs, because hamstring injuries can be tricky and a setback can very easily happen.
Also expected out this week will be wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders injured his knee against the Patriots and Tomlin revealed today that he needed minor surgery to have it scoped. Tomlin stated he could be out a couple of weeks, so the earliest we can expect to see him back is against the Chiefs following the bye. I would not write that return date down in stone however.
Yet another linebacker that could remain out until after the bye is James Farrior. He has missed the last 2 weeks with a torn calf and it although Tomlin also had an optimistic view on him returning this week as well, it makes sense to rest him until after the bye as well.
One player not mentioned by Tomlin today was guard Doug Legursky. He has missed the last 3 games with a dislocated toe suffered against the Jaguars and he seems destined to not return until after the bye, maybe later.
Thankfully we have seen several key players make it back over the last few weeks as nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker James Harrison, linebacker Jason Worilds and guard Chris Kemoeatu all appear to be healthy for now. Hampton missed 3 games with a shoulder injury, Harrison missed 4 games with his fractured orbital bone, Worilds missed 4 games with a quad injury of some sorts and Kemoeatu misses 3 games with his bad knee.
The list of injuries to key player in the first half of the season also included nose tackle Chris Hoke, wide receiver Hines Ward, running back Mewelde Moore, running back Rashard Mendenhall, defensive end Brett Keisel, tackle Marcus Gilbert and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Not to be left out are the players that have already been placed on injured reserve this season as tackle Willie Colon, defensive end Aaron Smith, quarterback Byron Leftwich and punter Daniel Sepulveda are all done for 2011.
While the Steelers certainly look to be down a few key players against the Bengals this week, they are still favored to win on the road. Getting past this week with a win is paramount, but just as important is getting out of Cincinnati without any new injuries. The bye week, as late as it might be this season, might just work out in the Steelers favor. With what looks like a pretty soft schedule the rest of the way, the Steelers could indeed be the healthiest they have been since week 1 and the rest the veterans will receive should rejuvenate them for a shot at running the table the rest of the way.
All they need to do is get past the Bengals this Sunday with a win and do so without any starters getting hurt.
Key Steelers Players Who Have Missed Time This Season