Here come the injuries…
After a blissfully quiet start to training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers have joined the NFL wide injury parade. In the aftermath of the team’s first preseason game on Saturday, ultra-secretive head coach Mike Tomlin revealed that tight end Matt Spaeth underwent surgery for his foot injury. Yesterday, wide receiver Plaxico Burress also went under the knife, undergoing surgery for the torn rotator cuff he suffered during practice.
As usual, the Steelers are being tight-lipped about the condition of both players. On the surface, it would appear Plax had the more serious surgery. ProFootballTalk cites an unnamed “source with knowledge of the situation” – How wonderfully vague. Is it a trainer? A coach? A cute student nurse at UPMC? – that Plax is out for the season.
Meanwhile, the team seems to be downplaying the injury to Spaeth. A few days ago he was optimistically listed as being “out 8-10 weeks” although who knows if that was before or after he underwent surgery. I’m not a doctor (although I offer free exams) so perhaps I’m off base here but Spaeth is listed as out with a Lisfranc injury. I wracked my brain to figure out where I’ve heard that injury before.
Our old friend Santonio Holmes has been battling his way back from a Lisfranc injury for almost a full season now. He was diagnosed with the ailment way back in week 4 of last season and twelve games and two surgeries later, he’s still on the Jets’ PUP list. Granted, there are rumors he’s been milking his situation to buy himself more valuable wake and bake time but it’s definitely a serious injury. QB Matt Schaub had his season ended back in 2011 thanks to a Lisfranc, needing a solid four months of rehab before he could return to action.
We have no idea when we’ll see Heath Miller this season. Now it seems a very near certainty we won’t be seeing Matt Spaeth either.
Second year man David Paulson will be the interim starter. He’s a talented kid who looked decent on Saturday. Paulson, who was drafted for his hands, had a nice 13 yard catch but also showed some aggressive blocking in the run game. Third year vet Michael Palmer, who was only claimed off waivers on Thursday, got time in with the first team offense when they went to two tight sets. Palmer is known for his blocking and with a gaggle of practice squad retreads behind him, it would seem to be his job by default until one of the injured guys gets back.
The loss of Plax leaves the team with no red zone specialist. With Heath out, Burress was expected to be Ben’s go-to big target in the end zone. His absence mostly benefits sixth round pick Justin Brown, the last remaining tall receiver on the roster. Brown looked good on Saturday and should compete with fellow rookie Markus Wheaton for playing time in four WR sets once the season starts.
A season that is still three weeks away. Three more weeks, three more games, three more chances for calamity to strike before the meaningful games actually begin. And Roger Goodell is still trying to pimp an 18 game schedule?