Steelers hit hard by the injury bug so far in 2019
The Pittsburgh Steelers were an overall healthy team in 2018. Here’s why that has significantly changed so far this year.
As is the case with every fan base of every team every season, we will always be able to find something to complain about. Last year, the Steelers turned the ball over too much, Mike Tomlin’s team failed to close out games against inferior opponents, and there was some terrible officiating down the stretch.
Despite all of these complaints, many of us share from 2018, one thing Steelers fans did not have to worry about was injuries.
Pittsburgh was one of the healthiest teams in the league last season. Ben Roethlisberger played in all 16 games (though he was out for a stint during the Raiders game), their offensive line was healthy and playing well, and their defense was well intact.
As far as the skill positions go, James Conner was healthy for all but the final three games of the season JuJu played all 16 games, and Antonio Brown dressed for all 15 contests before walking out on his team against Cincinnati in the final game of the season. Even Vance McDonald (who is rarely healthy) played in 15 games last year.
However, this string of good health was too good to last. The injury bug has finally caught up to Pittsburgh, and it is biting hard.
After just a game and a half into the 2019 season, the Steelers lost their franchise quarterback for the remainder of the year. Mason Rudolph suffered a scary concussion last week that left him motionless on the field, and Pittsburgh may be asked to call upon an undrafted rookie who was 4th in the pecking order at quarterback this past August to fill in against the Chargers this week.
Unfortunately, their early-season injury issues expand beyond the quarterback position. Linebacker Vince Williams missed two games with a hamstring injury, and his snaps have been limited this year as a result.
Recently, Jaylen Samuels underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for about a month. He has been a large part of the passing offense as of late – cathing 11 balls over the past two games.
Yesterday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that James Washington is expected to miss a few weeks with a shoulder issue:
Washington may have been on the verge of breaking out against the Ravens before leaving the contest in the second half with a shoulder issue. He had 3 catches for 52 yards – including a 26-yard catch on a crucial 3rd down conversion – prior to exiting the game.
Unfortunately, the show must go on without many of these players. It’s easy to point to injuries as the reason for the Steelers’ struggles this year. And there is undoubtedly some truth to that. However, the Steelers have plenty of other areas they are struggling in this season.
There is no doubt that Pittsburgh was one of the healthiest teams in all of football last year. The sad part is they missed their opportunity in 2018, and their Super Bowl window may have already closed shut. All we can do now is hope that the team rallies around the healthy players they do have and somehow make a run this year.