The 2018 season ended up being one of the healthiest seasons on record. Steelers players missed 204 games, up from 78 games last year. That may seem like a significant increase, but the Steelers placed 9 players on IR (Injured Reserve) before the season started. The only significant player was Jerald Hawkins, who wasn’t a starter, but was fighting for the swing tackle and extra tackle role. Ryan Shazier was placed on IR as well, but no one expected him to play as he is still progressing from his back injury. Ola Adeniyi was the only player activated from IR during the season. Ola returned to the roster for the last four games, but was inactive on game day for his four rostered weeks.
Only four players were placed on IR during the season. Nat Berhe was placed on IR week 5 with a torn pectoral muscle. Chris Boswell was only IR’ed for the last week of the season, and strangely, the team never disclosed what the injury was. Justin Hunter was placed on IR week 14 after injuring his shoulder. The most significant injury to the roster was Marcus Gilbert, who the team was hoping to return from his knee injury after surgery during the bye week. Unfortunately, that was not the case. He was inactive for seven weeks before the Steelers placed him on IR week 15.
Eli Rogers was the only player placed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, as he was recovering from ACL surgery from the injury in their playoff game against Jacksonville. Eli spent the maximum amount of time on the PUP, and returned for the last three weeks of the season to play in those games. Eli was also the only player to serve a suspension last season for performance enhancing drugs and served one game before he was activated.
I don’t know what is in the water, or what the training staff is doing, but the Steelers only missed 31 games due to injury last season (not accounting for games missed by players on IR). That is down from 38 the previous season. When it comes to starters, the Steelers fared even better, since only 21 games were missed. Eleven of those games were Marcus Gilbert’s injuries and time off before being placed on IR. Another one was Antonio Brown not playing the last week of the season because he didn’t report to practice, a scheduled MRI, or the team walkthrough. Since his agent Drew Rosenhaus called Mike Tomlin and stated his client could play on Sunday before the game, I am listing AB as a healthy scratch/coaches decision, but still a missed game by a starter.
The Steelers were very fortunate to only lose one starter for the majority of the season to injury. Since the roster was the healthiest since I began tracking it in 2016, no one should list it as a reason why they missed the playoffs.
Here are some interesting points from my Final Injury/Roster Moves spreadsheet which can be viewed HERE:
- Steelers only had one game served due to suspension (Eli Rogers) down from five the previous season
- Marcus Gilbert only played in 5 games, after missing one due to a hamstring, and 10 due to his knee injury and surgery. His health had to be a factor in the Steelers deciding not to resign him this year. (He also missed nine games in 2017)
- Vance McDonald only missed one game due to injury, and it was week 1.
- Le’Veon Bell was not listed as a starter, because he held out and was never on the roster. As a result, he lost the ability to earn $14.5 million in salary
- Ryan Swtizer is a tough football player: He played with ankle issues from week 9 on, and even returned from concussion protocol, yet didn’t miss a single game. He then waited until the season was over to have surgery on his ankle.
- James Connor missed 3 games with an ankle sprain, and was probably the most impactful injury on the season. The Steelers lost two of those three games.
- Morgan Burnett was signed to be a starting safety. He hurt his groin in training camp opening the door for rookie Terrell Edmunds. Burnett went on to reinjure his groin and missed another four games which severely hindered his ability to perform all season. He would also miss a game with a back injury in December.
- Seven fines were given to Steelers players (down from 13 the previous year). One was to coach Tomlin for criticizing the officiating, and one was to Eli Rogers for the previously mentioned PED violation. Only five fines were given to players for game play. Four occurred in September, and the last was Ramon Foster’s fine for unsportsmanlike conduct the last game of the year.
Do you think we can be just as healthy in 2019!? Fingers crossed! Share your thoughts in the comment section below!