The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

September 8, 2013

Injuries add to insult in Steelers' loss

PITTSBURGH — Kicker Shaun Suisham got injured in pregame warm-ups for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. It didn’t get much better from there in the team’s 16-7 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“Obviously a disappointing opener,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Enough misery to go around in all three phases.”

Tomlin was talking about the team’s on-field performance, but he could just as easily have been addressing the Steelers’ injury concerns.

For much of the game, they had more injuries than points. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Larry Foote each face what likely will be a season-ending surgery. Greater Johnstown graduate LaRod Stephens-Howling, who is the team’s third-down back and kickoff returner, left the game with a knee injury and was headed for an MRI after the game. Starting cornerback Cortez Allen had a right ankle sprain and Suisham hurt his hamstring before the opening kickoff.

“It’s frustrating,” defensive end Brett Keisel said of the injuries. “Any time you lose guys that are key contributors to your game, it’s frustrating. But that’s the business we’re in. It happens every year with every team.”

The Steelers already were playing without injured second-round pick Le’Veon Bell, who was listed as the

co-starter at running back, and tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth. Fullback Will Johnson was active but didn’t play after being limited most of the week by injury.

The biggest blow might have come less than four minutes into the Steelers season, and it came from friendly fire. Guard David DeCastro, the team’s first-round draft choice in 2012, tried to cut block on Titans defensive tackle Sammie Hill as part of the Steelers’ new zone-blocking scheme, but instead took out Pouncey’s right knee, injuring the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments.

“I’ll have to see the film and watch,” DeCastro said when asked what happened on the play. “I went down to cut the defender and I must have cut Pouncey. We’ll see. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet.”

DeCastro was asked if he felt responsible for the injury.

“You do,” he said, “but again, it’s football. Injuries happen. Like I said, I’ve got to see the film and see exactly what happened.”

Backup Kelvin Beachum filled in for Pouncey for the remainder of the game and impressed teammate Troy Polamalu.

“Beachum’s got to step up and, from my assessment on the sidelines, being a defensive back, it seemed like he did all right in there,” the safety said. “But Maurkice is one of the best – if not the best – centers in the game. It’s definitely a big loss.”

The team’s other starting safety, captain Ryan Clark, said the injury was psychologically damaging to the team.

“The psychological part is the friendship part,” he said. “It hurts. I told Ray Jackson, our player-development guy, we’re not supposed to cry, but you feel like it. It wasn’t because I felt like we couldn’t win a football game without those guys. You know what they put in all offseason. You know how much this game means to them. You know how much today meant to them.

“To be gone that early, and for the significant amount of time that Pouncey’s going to be gone, it’s tough,” Clark said. “It’s tough to deal with as his friend. But as his teammate, as a leader on this team, I told the guys, ‘Look, we’ve got to make the plays.’ If another guy went down and Maurkice was out there or Shaun was healthy, they would tell us to go out and make plays and work.’ And we didn’t do that.”

The defense suffered a loss, too, as Foote ruptured his bicep.

“Losing him is going to be big,” Clark said. “Just because, who’s behind him? I just learned their names like this week. For us, we have to step up around him, the guys who have been here – the Keisels, LaMarr (Woodley), Lawrence (Timmons).”

Vince Williams, one of the Steelers’ inactives, was listed as Foote’s backup on the two-deep roster.

There will be plenty of changes on there for the Sept. 16 game at Cincinnati.

The fate of Stephens-Howling has yet to be determined. The former Trojan, who signed with the Steelers in the offseason after spending four years with the Arizona Cardinals, got a big opportunity after Isaac Redman fumbled twice in the first half, but was unable to take advantage of it, as he injured his right knee, the same one that forced him to miss much of the preseason.

Stephens-Howling declined The Tribune-Democrat’s request for a postgame interview, saying he needed to go get the MRI done on his knee.

Stephens-Howling had six carries for 19 yards – a 3.2-yard average – and two catches for 11 yards. He also had a 25-yard kickoff return. He was injured after making a catch for 7 yards in the third quarter.

Eric Knopsnyder covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/eric_knopsnyder.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Dodgers Pirates Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
    Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • McIlroy 0720 McIlroy holds on to win British Open

    Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy.
    On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0719 Pirates take second straight over Rockies, win in 11th inning

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • out at home Eighth-inning rally carries Pirates to victory over Rockies

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • score Pirates in race, hope for late surge

    The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day – if still heated – pennant race.
    A season after shedding the yoke of two decades of failure with a stirring run to a playoff berth, the Pirates are just another solid if not spectacular team trying to keep pace in the jam-packed NL Central.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Derby 0714 Cespedes wins again, beating Frazier in HR derby

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • All-Star Game 0714 Pitching matchup features two of game’s most dominant arms

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeter 0714 Derek Jeter, an All-Star for the last time

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads