Steelers Injury List: Impact for Players and Team


The Steelers start camp with a relatively healthy team. There are a few exceptions however. There are 5 players starting camp on the physically unable to perform list. The impact of each players absence will have varying impacts on the team and the players themselves.

Mike Tomlin recently gave a press conference listing the injuries. Their nature, their time, and their impact are detailed below.

Maurkice Pouncey  – foot

On a personal level his starting camp on the PUP list is of little significance at this point. Pouncey has been the rock of this offensive line since being drafted. He’s been foundation on which the Steelers have built this line up from about as awful as it could be to being actually pretty good today. He seems like a grizzled vet in this young line but he’s still young and has lots of career ahead of him.

Obviously anything that would last into the season would be bad for him and put his near perennial end of season accolades at risk, but it’s like whenever he came back he could hit the ground running. For at least the next half decade if Pouncey can play he’ll have the starting center job waiting for him.

As far as the team goes it could go one of two ways. If the injury resolves itself before the start of the season, it should not matter much. In terms of conditioning he’ll have to make up some but it shouldn’t be significant.

If it lasts into the season then obviously that would be trouble based on what I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. He calls the blocks, he’s the best lineman, and his skills are integral to a number of specific plays.

Bruce Gradkowski  – shoulder

Gradkowski is in a similar position to Pouncey in terms of his absence likely having a minimal impact on his own playing time and ability. It is for different reasons however. For Pouncey it is because he is so good. For Gradkowski it is because the players behind him are so, let’s say, unestablished.

Gradkowski is a veteran. His accuracy is not great but he’s an old dog and he’s not going to learn many new tricks this camp. What he has is poise however and some leadership skills. He can definitely fill in adequately in a pinch. Unlike the players  behind him.

Speaking of which, this could benefit Landry Jones. He could take snaps from the 2nd team and play with a more skilled unit. Perhaps he could show something he hasn’t yet. On the other hand, this would also result in more snaps for Tajh Boyd, Devin Gardner, and Tyler Murphy, players brought in to potentially replace Jones.

Big Ben is going to be up top, no doubt. The question is a) whether Gradkowski will be the backup, and if he’s healthy he will be. But also b) what impact will this have on the competition for 3rd string QB, which is battle even more important if Gradkowski is injured.

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Mike Adams – back

Oh Mike Adams, between Cam Thomas and, perhaps unfairly, Mike Mitchell, Steeler nation forgot to be exasperated by you last year. Perhaps it was his lack of playing time; perhaps it was the dramatic improvement of the offense or the continued struggles of the defense.

Perhaps a little time with Mike Munchak went along way with young Mike. It’s probably a combination of all those factors. Regardless, Mike Adams is still not a great tackle, and not, as of last year, worthy of his second round selection.

So what do you work on in camp? Conditioning and fundamentals. No player would benefit more from spending time with Mike Munchak. The technique Adams displays is often, in a word, terrible. Just terrible. Nearly everything you can do wrong as an offensive tackle Adams does wrong.

He bends his waste, turns his hips, lunges, extends his arms, does not keep his feet square, and often is not aware of his assignment. He could get leapfrogged by another player but his competition is mostly undrafted free agents.

On a team perspective Adams would not be a huge loss. However, Gilbert is a little injury prone and Adams is the top backup tackle. The issue with Adams absence is the loss of time he gets to work with Mike Munchak to improve his technique.

Senquez Golson – shoulder

Although he’s a rookie, based on the currently Steelers secondary many have suggested that Golson could get significant playing time as a rookie. This certainly doesn’t help in that regard, either the Steelers or Golson. It may however benefit the many other corners fighting for a roster spot.

Obviously with Golson being a rookie he as much as anyone would benefit from as much practice as possible before Week 1’s kickoff. Camp could be a critical miss for him if it’s extended. As a second round pick he’ll keep a roster spot but there’s a lot of corners in the mix and it would be a bit of a setback for both Golson and the Steelers if he’s out long term.

Shawn Lemon – achilles

Shawn Lemon, man of mystery. The unknown player who apparently has torn it up in non-NFL football leagues was signed by the Steelers this offseason, likely with the ideal situation in mind being Lemon turning into the defensive Tommy Maddox. This however could be a big setback for Lemon if it’s extended.

The Steelers have done enough work this offseason so that Lemon’s absence would not be a huge deal. For Lemon however, it could be devastating. As essentially a rookie he needs to learn the defense and certainly some technique issues. Missing a lot of camp and offseason could make it so Lemon never gets to wear the black and gold.

So overall, how does the PUP list impact the Steelers and the players? Well most of the injuries are reportedly minor. It appears none of these players will be out for very long with the exception of Adams, who will miss 4 weeks.

Overall, the only of these that could make a long term difference to the Steelers on the field, assuming none of these seemingly small injuries turn out to be big, is Golson. The secondary would certainly be better with him on the field at his full potential, or rookie potential, but if he’s gone for too much of this critical time it could shake up projections for the secondary, for better or worse.

Next: Steelers: Kevin Colbert extension

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