By Danny Cox
In a game that some are looking at as an easy victory, the Pittsburgh Steelers know that nothing is ever simple in the NFL. They are traveling to Cincinnati and facing off with the Bengals who have had a season unlike anything they were expecting or hoping for. Still, they’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and will pull out all of the stops to win this weekend.
Making matters a bit better for the Bengals is that they have a rather healthy roster, but then again, so do the Steelers. The Week 15 injury report is easily the shortest it has been yet in 2016, and there are no new names on it either. That means Pittsburgh has already played without the two players listed as Out and know the game plan in their absence.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is still out with a foot injury and he didn’t practice at all this entire week. DHB has actually not played in a game since the loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 6. The Steelers have learned to adjust their wide receivers and get by without the big name who has just five receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
On defense, safety Shamarko Thomas is still in the league’s concussion protocol, so he was held out of practice this entire week and has also been ruled Out. Thomas missed last week’s win over the Buffalo Bills and he was still feeling some of the effects of the concussion, which will have him out for a second straight game.
Early on in the week, the Steelers’ injury report was a lot longer with names, such as running back DeAngelo Williams, center B.J. Finney, guard Ramon Foster, and tackle Marcus Gilbert. Luckily, they practiced the majority of the week and are going to be ready for the game against the Bengals.
Bengals looking healthy too
Cincinnati’s injury report is quite a short one as well with no players listed as Out, but there are a few Doubtful and Questionable.
Defensive end Wallace Gilberry (calf) did not practice at all for the Bengals this week, and even though he isn’t listed as Out, he will likely be a game-time decision. Wide receiver A.J. Green hasn’t played in a game since the loss to the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 20, but he did practice in a limited fashion this week. The Bengals are hopeful to have him on the field, but they’re going to see how he is after Saturday’s walkthrough and Sunday morning.
Wide receiver James Wright (knee) and tight end C.J. Uzomah (calf) are listed as Questionable, but they participated in full on Friday so they’ll be able to play as needed. On defense, safety Derron Smith (thigh) is also listed as Questionable, but he should be able to play as well.
Long snapper Clark Harris has been dealing with a groin injury and he’s Questionable, but he fully participated in practice throughout the entire week. The Bengals will not be without a key member of their special teams or many players on their roster, and they’ll need every healthy player to compete with the streaking Steelers.
- (WR) Darrius Heyward-Bey (Foot) – Did Not Participate In Practice
- (S) Shamarko Thomas (Concussion) – Did Not Participate In Practice