Should Steelers consider resting banged-up starters against Bengals?

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks with outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90). Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks with outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90). Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a handful of starters who are currently less than full strength. Should they consider resting them against the Bengals?

After dropping a game that many counted as a win in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers really aren’t in a position to be giving up wins in games they are favored in. Early in the 2021 season, Mike Tomlin’s team sits on a 1-1 record in a four-way tie in the AFC North.

This gives Pittsburgh a clean slate as there are still 15 games yet to be played this year. Unfortunately, this team that was once one of the healthiest in the league has had some really bad injury luck as of late.

The Steelers probably lost Tyson Alualu for the season after he fractured his ankle early in last Sunday against the Raiders. On Wednesday, nine players showed up on the injury report, while five of them did not participate in any fashion.

Among those players who sat out was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his go-to receiver, Diontae Johnson. Combine this with the fact that T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, Alex Highsmith, and Joe Haden are all dealing with groin injuries, and you have a recipe for disaster in Week 3. These injuries come in addition to Stephon Tuitt and Zach Banner who have been on IR since the start of the season.

Should the Steelers rest injured starters vs Bengals?

This leads us to a question that’s worth exploring: should the Steelers rest their banged-up players against the Cincinnati Bengals this week? I can see both sides of the argument.

On one hand, this is a game that the Pittsburgh Steelers should win. They are playing their second straight game at home and would love to redeem themselves with a win over their easiest divisional opponent.

On the other hand, it’s important to weigh the risk versus the reward. Is the chance to knock off the Bengals and start the season 2-1 worth the chance of potentially causing further injury to players like Roethlisberger, Watt, or Johnson?

Even if Pittsburgh does decide to deploy every somewhat able-bodied man, there’s no guarantee they will come away with the win against the Bengals. This Cincinnati team has a surprisingly tough defense so far, and I’d hate for Ben to take any more big hits while he’s still recovering.

Obviously, this is a game we all chalked up as a win when going through record predictions. However, the question we have to ask ourselves is what is more important: an increased chance of beating the Bengals in Week 3 or having a healthy team down the stretch?

There’s no guarantee the Steelers make the playoffs in 2021, but it’s not going to matter if they do if they are missing key players. These groin injuries won’t last all season, but maybe it’s worth considering resting Pittsburgh’s banged-up starters this week in an effort to make sure this team is as healthy as possible the rest of the year.