The Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase has gone from enthralled optimism to abject desperation in a period of a few weeks, seeing critical players fall to serious injury. Most devastating, center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a broken leg in the Steelers second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Pouncey’s contributions to the team are hard to quantify. He is the anchor of one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL. The Steelers next man up is Cody Wallace who provided back up for Pouncey when he was injured in 2013. Versatile offensive lineman Doug Legursky is also back with the Steelers. Nonetheless, Pouncey is irreplaceable, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley has already indicated he has needed to remove plays from the playbook that were designed for Pouncey’s unique skillset.
If Pouncey had been the only injury, it would be devastating enough, but the Steelers are also reeling from the loss of their kicker Shaun Suisham to a torn ACL sustained during the Hall of Fame Game against the Minnesota Vikings. It seems to be improbably bad luck, but now the Black and Gold are worried about a potentially serious, season-ending injury to the kicker who filled in for Suisham, Garrett Hartley.
As if that weren’t bad enough, other key players are suffering from nagging injuries. Safety Mike Mitchell has not been completely healthy after playing with a severe groin injury last season. LB Lawrence Timmons has turf toe, the same injury that ended legendary Steeler Jack Lambert’s career.
Injuries are not the only obstacles for the Steelers. Star running back Le’Veon Bell is missing the first two games due to a marijuana-related infraction from last August. And, most recently, it was announced that breakout wide receiver Martavis Bryant is facing a four-game suspension, also for marijuana use.