Questions Steelers fans need answered for Thursday’s matchup vs. the Browns
Who will return kicks and punts?
The Black & Gold will have some questions as to who will be their return men on Thursday. According to the latest injury report, Ryan Switzer is going to be out with a back injury. He has been the primary kick returner and punt returner this season.
As far as punts go. My best guess is that Diontae Johnson will be the guy to start. The problem is that he has had ball security issues this year, and that has gone back to his Toledo days.
The second option is Cameron Sutton to return punts. He did this in college at Tennessee. The Steelers don’t usually like to have defensive players to return punts, but they may need him this week.
As for kicks, there are a few options, and it is hard to predict who will be the one. There is Johnny Holton, who returned some kicks in the preseason. He has the speed and has been a staple on special teams.
The other option is Tony Brooks-James. He got a chance to be the kick returner last game, but the kick went to the back of the end zone. The Steelers are healthier at running back; so, returning kicks might be what is keeping him on the active roster and might be the reason he dresses on Thursday.
The Steelers are big on ball security, and that will probably be the factor that decides who will get these jobs. I hope these guys are ready to field kicks and punts because that could be the difference in a division game.
The Steelers head into Thursday Night Football with a division game against the Browns. This is the type of game the Steelers need to win if they want to make the playoffs.
The Browns are a bit in disarray, and so this is the time to capitalize. The Steelers are also still in the division race; consequently, their division record is key.
They will need to contain Myles Garrett if they want to succeed on offense. Myles Garrett could really make Mason Rudolph’s day difficult if the Steelers can’t hold him.
James Conner looks to be healthy and doesn’t have a game designation; so, he should go on Thursday. The Steelers will like being able to run the ball with him to take the pressure off Mason Rudolph. He can also be Mason Rudolph’s best friend in the screen game.
The Steelers have gotten a lot of help from their defense this year and will rely on them to win the game against the Browns. They will have a different offense to face with a different scheme this time; so, Keith Butler needs to prepare this team well.
The Steelers may be without Joe Haden after an illness kept him out of Wednesday’s practice. Brandon Kring of Still Curtain said that Haden would do everything he can to be ready for this game. My guess is if he is healthy enough to perform, then he will go Thursday night.
The Steelers will also be without their primary return specialist in Ryan Switzer. They will need to piece together some players to take on those roles. The good news is that these players have been returners in college and in the preseason and in some cases, the NFL regular season.
This game will keep the momentum going that Mike Tomlin has built. Steeler Nation is singing his praises. It would be a shame if that narrative went away after losing to a division rival.