What Zach Banner’s return could mean for the Steelers’ offensive line

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Behind the Steel Curtain 14 October, 2021 - 11:30am 10 views

Is Russell Wilson on IR?

Wilson is allowed to since the Seahawks have not put him on the injured reserve, which means that for now, he is free to take part in as much practice as his injury allows. The Seattle TimesSeahawks QB Russell Wilson will ‘do everything he can possibly do’ in practice, Pete Carroll says

The Steelers continued preparation for Sunday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks, and they appear to be a team on the mend.

Linebacker Devin Bush, who came out of the Broncos game with a groin injury, was a full participant for the second straight day. And he wasn't the only one. Cornerback Cameron Sutton, who was inactive last week against the Broncos with a groin injury, was also a full participant for the second day. Having both players healthy will definitely be a boost for the defense.

Ben Roethlisberger, who didn't practice on Wednesday while still being listed with a pectoral/hip injury, was a full participant on Thursday. In addition, linebacker Melvin Ingram III and guard Trai Turner, who were both given the day off on Wednesday, returned to practice on Thursday.

Receivers James Washington (groin) and Chase Claypool (hamstring) and defensive lineman Carlos Davis (knee) were limited in practice on Wednesday as well as Thursday.

Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (neck) was limited on Wednesday, but he was a full go in practice on Thursday. Ahkello Witherspoon didn't practice on Thursday, a coach's decision.

Read full article at Behind the Steel Curtain

Ron Cook: A tough exit for Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 14 October, 2021 - 02:12pm

Ben Roethlisberger dropped the hint near the end of his news briefing Sunday after the Steelers’ win against the Denver Broncos.

“We just feel for JuJu and ask everyone to pray for him.”

Roethlisberger’s worst fears were confirmed Monday. JuJu Smith-Schuster has a dislocated shoulder, per multiple reports, and is expected to have surgery this week. The Steelers’ most popular player will miss the rest of the season.

Smith-Schuster was injured late in the second quarter when he ran a jet sweep and took a hard but clean hit from Broncos safety Kareem Jackson. Do yourself a favor and don’t Google the play. It is extremely violent, even for mature audiences. You can see immediately that Smith-Schuster is in trouble.

This is a big loss for the Steelers.

It’s an even bigger loss for Smith-Schuster.

It also is the continuation of an unfortunate run of injuries to Steelers wide receivers.

James Washington missed the Denver game with a groin injury. Chase Claypool missed the Green Bay game with a hamstring issue. Diontae Johnson missed the Cincinnati game after a knee injury on the final play of the Las Vegas game.

Now, Smith-Schuster is done for the season.

The only surprise is it’s not a groin injury.

You might have heard those things are going around the Steelers like a bad case of the flu. At last check, Washington, Alex Highsmith, T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, Cam Sutton and Devin Bush had each missed a game because of a groin injury. Who knows if Bush will be ready Sunday night for the home game against Seattle after leaving the Denver game with — you guessed it — another groin problem?

The injuries are a factor in the Steelers’ 2-3 start. But as disappointing as the season has gone for the team, it’s been much worse for Smith-Schuster. He must regret coming back here on a one-year, $8 million deal after turning down better offers as a free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. He had talked of becoming more of an outside threat and not just a slot receiver. He had planned to enhance his résumé and get bigger-money offers after the season. But none of it happened.

Who is going to want to pay big money to Smith-Schuster now?

Even before the injury, Smith-Schuster was having an unproductive season. He had 15 catches for just 129 yards and no receiving touchdowns. That’s an 8.6 yards-per-catch average, the same number he averaged last season. The big differences are he had 97 catches and nine touchdown receptions a year ago.

Smith-Schuster has fallen a long way since his rookie season in 2017, when he averaged 15.8 yards per catch with seven touchdowns. His best season was in 2018, when he had 111 catches for a 12.8 yards-per-catch average and seven touchdowns.

What Smith-Schuster would give for those numbers now.

It’s safe to say Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin will miss Smith-Schuster even if his stats are down. Roethlisberger often has called him the team’s No. 1 receiver and the best third-down receiver in the NFL. Tomlin repeatedly has praised his toughness and leadership.

With Smith-Schuster out, Johnson, Claypool, Washington and, yes, Ray Ray McCloud and Cody White, will have to do more of the heavy lifting. It’s remarkable that Johnson and Claypool have remained productive despite their injuries and missed time. Johnson caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger against Denver, his third consecutive game with a catch of 40-plus yards. Claypool had five catches for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown against Denver. They are a terrific one-two punch, each a better receiver than Smith-Schuster.

But Smith-Schuster has captured the attention and affection of Steelers fans — especially younger fans — better than anyone on the team. He has built a strong, lucrative brand by mastering social media. He has 3.3 million followers on Instagram and 1.1 million on Twitter. He also is an absolute TikTok star.

It’s possible Smith-Schuster will return to the Steelers again next season with another one-year, show-me type of contract. But that seems unlikely. Chances are better that we’ve seen the last of him in a Steelers uniform, walking off the Heinz Field turf, clutching his right arm in excruciating pain.

That is one Smith-Schuster video that no one wanted to see.

First Published October 12, 2021, 10:00am

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