If you have read this site for a while or are a long time listener of the podcast, you know that I have long been worried about the feet of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders ever since his second surgery. As I have stated before, you never like to hear about young player having problems with their feet early on in their careers, especially if they play a skill position like running back or wide receiver.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday from the NFL owners meetings that he too has fears similar to mine when it comes to Sanders and his ability to stay healthy. Ed Bouchette reported on his blog Tuesday that Tomlin is worried not only about the ability of Sanders to stay healthy for a longer period of time, but tackle Willie Colon as well.
Bouchette reports that Tomlin did say that both Sanders and Colon are on track as they recover from their injuries and apparently Sanders had yet another foot surgery after the season ended, if I understand the post by Bouchette correctly. I am sure he will clarify more in his Wednesday article. Colon, the last I heard, has been cleared for action after tearing his triceps last year against the Baltimore Ravens in week one.
Sanders missed five games last year due to foot and knee injuries, but he was able to return for the season finale against the Cleveland Browns and also played in the AFC Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos. He was on the field for just under 400 offensive plays in his second season. The 2011 season started off with quite a few question marks surrounding Sanders\' health as he needed a procedure done on his left foot to speed up the healing process after offseason surgery. He was able to play in the Steelers final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, but only made through the first eight regular season games before missing time.
Now that the Hines Ward era is over in Pittsburgh, Sanders must indeed stay healthy. The Steelers are hoping to bring back free agent Jerricho Cotchery as a 4th wide receiver just in case, but Sanders has shown he has tremendous play making ability when 100% healthy and he is the best blocking wide receiver the Steelers have now with Ward gone. He ended the season on a positive note in the game against the Broncos with a 6 catch, 81 yard performance and hopefully we see a full season worth of that from him in 2012.
Although Tomlin shared his concerns about Colon, I see the injuries that cost him all but one game the last two seasons as unlucky incidents. He had been the picture of health prior to tearing his Achilles before the start of the 2010 training camp. Up until that point he hadn\'t missed a game.
The torn triceps Colon suffered against the Ravens in week one this past season could have just been a freakish injury as well. We don\'t really know if the lockout, and the failure to workout under team supervision, played a part in that or not, but I suppose we can\'t rule that out either. Maybe Colon is injury prone, but the Steelers just can\'t cut him this soon after signing him to a new deal after the lockout ended last year. Like Sanders, Colon needs to stay healthy in 2012 as the depth at tackle currently really only consist of Jonathan Scott.
The Steelers will likely draft another tackle at some point during the draft and I am sure the phone number of Max Starks will be easy to find once he is fully recovered from his ACL surgery, but they need Colon in there. While many will try to disagree, Colon was one of, if not the best right tackle in the league in 2009, even with all of the penalties. Does he still have a 2009 season or two left in him? We certainly are going to find out.
Hopefully my concerns about Sanders and Tomlins\' concerns about both are all about nothing, as the Steelers need both to play the full slate in 2012 in order to make a run at a 7th Lombardi Trophy.