Less than two weeks from the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers have some major injury concerns to deal with. Three pretty significant contributors, including two starters, have been added to the injured reserve today: backup running back Anthony McFarland, starting right tackle Zach Banner, and starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
The news is rough for Pittsburgh, especially up front. Tuitt has been a stalwart for Pittsburgh since 2014, while Banner has come along as a starter in recent years, though injuries have been an issue for him.
The Tuitt move isn’t overly surprising. He has not yet practiced this year due to a knee injury. Per Joe Rutter, defensive coordinator Keith Butler said that Tuitt may also be working his way back into shape after missing time following his the death of his brother in June, which is very understandable.
Banner, meanwhile, continues to work his way back from a 2020 injury. He went down with a torn ACL in September of last season, and has been easing his way back into play. While he saw a few preseason snaps, all in the Steelers’ third game this summer, he is not quite ready for real play based on this news.
Steelers put three significant players, including two starters, on IR: OL Zach Banner, RB Anthony McFarland Jr. and DE Stephon Tuitt.
In corresponding moves, Pittsburgh also signed OL Rashaad Coward, OL B.J. Finney and CB Arthur Maulet to the 53-man roster.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 1, 2021
While the writing had been on the wall for Tuitt and Banner, the McFarland news is fairly new, though he missed the team’s last preseason game. The injury to the running back, who is expected to be behind rookie Najee Harris and Benny Snell Jr. on the depth chart, has not been specified.
The loss of Tuitt is the biggest of the three here, after his breakout 2020 campaign. Last season he shattered his previous season high sack total of 6.5, taking down opposing quarterbacks 11 times in 15 games. His 10 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits were also career highs for the Notre Dame product.
All three players should be eligible to return after three weeks for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They open with a tough game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Sept. 12, followed by home games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers travel to the Green Bay Packers for Week 4.
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