The Pittsburgh Steelers need all the help they can get if they want to defeat the Detroit Lions this week, as the Lions are a fully legitimate playoff contender. The Steelers have a fair shot at knocking off the Lions, but their task will be very difficult if two of their best players on defense are unable to play this week. Despite Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stating that they would be limited in practice this week, neither Brett Keisel nor LaMarr Woodley have been able to practice at all this week. This has been a big concern for the Steelers leading into tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Lions, but there is still more optimism than pessimism that both will play tomorrow.
The main reason why both players are expected to play tomorrow despite not practicing is the fact that both believe they will be out there tomorrow. From the Steelers official site’s Mike Prisuta, top pass rusher LaMarr Woodley thinks that he has a “great shot” at playing, “I have a great shot. Two days left. I have until 11:30 (a.m.) on Sunday (when inactive players are announced). I’m the only one who really knows how my calf is feeling, if I’m able to go, if I’m going to be out there helping the team or hurting the team. It’s definitely going to be my decision if I can go or not.
Despite not practicing with a calf injury, Woodley stated that he feels there is still time for him to “test” his calf out. There is little doubt, however, that both Woodley and Keisel will be game-time decisions tomorrow morning leading up to the game, because neither veteran was able to get practice in.
Here’s what Keisel said about his status, “I think I’m gonna go. It gets better every day, so Sunday it should feel good.”
Keisel, who has been dealing with a foot injury, didn’t sound as optimistic as Woodley, but it still seems like he’ll play as well. Odds are that one of them will be out there, and it is especially important to have Woodley out there. The Steelers need to be able to put pressure on Lions star QB Matthew Stafford, because he will pick them apart with Calvin Johnson all day. Johnson is so great at getting open that it’s all about pressuring Stafford so Johnson doesn’t have the time to get open. With five sacks this season, Woodley is definitely the Steelers best pass rusher.