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The reserve interior offensive lineman is eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured List.
The Steelers are dealing with a number of injury concerns as they prepare for their Week 6 matchup against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday at Heinz Field. Derek Watt and Marcus Allen both missed the Steelers Week 5 matchup and are hoping to get back on the field this week. David DeCastro and Diontae Johnson left the Steelers’ game in the first half Sunday and are hoping to not miss any additional time. Also, Maurkice Pouncey was unable to finish off the game as he exited in the fourth quarter. Whether or not he could have returned had his injury occurred earlier in the game is unknown, but his availability for this Sunday will come down to his practice participation beginning on Thursday as Wednesday he is usually given a veteran’s day off.
On Tuesday, Steelers had coach Mike Tomlin addressed all the players listed above and stated how their participation during the week will determine their availability. But one player Tomlin failed to mention is center/guard Stefen Wisniewski who dealing with a pectoral injury but is eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured List.
For the 2020 season, there are many rules which have been implimented due to the current situation. Some rules were made with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in March while others have been adjustments due to teams dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to the Reserve/Injured List, the new rule only for 2020 is a player who spent at least 24 hours on a team’s 53-man roster can return from the list after three weeks.
Stefen Wisniewski started at right guard for the Steelers in Week 1 for an injured David DeCastro. One play before Zach Banner was lost for the season with an ACL injury, Wisniewski left the game with a chest injury. As the week progressed, it appeared he would not be available for Week 2. But as the game approached, the Steelers placed Wisniewski on IR and activated Derwin Gray from the practice squad.
With all of the crazy things going on with the Steelers Week 4 matchup scheduled to take place against the Tennessee Titans which turned into an impromptu bye week for the Steelers, many forgot Wisniewski was eligible to return in Week 5 from the IR. with the Steelers offensive line as healthy as possible, there was no need for Wisniewski to be rushed back.
In Week 6, things may be a bit different.
With the uncertainty of both David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers could be a little thin on the offensive line. Of the two All-Pro players, the biggest concern has to be the loss of Pouncey as rookie Kevin Dotson has played admirably in place of DeCastro when taking the field in 2020. If Pouncey were unable to play, the only other center available for the Steelers would be J.C. Hassenauer who played the final series against the Eagles in place of Pouncey. Hassenauer only has four career offensive snaps in the NFL, all of which came on the Steelers final four plays in Week 5. The only other snaps Hassenauer has seen in the regular season are 11 special teams snaps in 2020.
Although the Steelers are optimistic Pouncey will be available on Sunday, the return of Wisniewski is something to watch as the week goes on. Whether it be backing up at guard or at center, Wisniewski‘s versatility and experience is something which would benefit the Steelers greatly. Of course, it would be hopeful the Steelers would not have to place another player on IR for the return of Wiszniewski, which means Derwin Gray would be the likely candidate relegated back to the Steelers practice squad should he clear waivers. As for who the eight offensive linemen who would be active of game day, health would be the ultimate factor come Sunday.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare to take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 at Heinz Field.