Although the Steelers are hopeful that starters Ramon Foster, Brett Keisel, and LaMarr Woodley could be available to play on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh’s head coach Mike Tomlin is tempering his expectations when it comes to the availability of Shamarko Thomas and Stevenson Sylvester.
According to a recent tweet by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sylvester and Thomas are considered “doubtful” to play against the Browns on Sunday afternoon:
#Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: 2 further away than anyone else, Sylvester (ham) and Shamarko (ankle) doubtful
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 19, 2013
If Thomas sits, he will miss his second consecutive game due to the high-ankle sprain he suffered during Pittsburgh’s Week 10 win over Buffalo. The rookie safety from Syracuse has done a fine job on special teams this year for the Steelers, and his involvement in sub-packages on the defensive side of the ball has been a huge plus as well.
In the event that Thomas is sidelined again, veteran Will Allen will need to come up big like he did last weekend when he paced the team with nine tackles and was involved on two of Pittsburgh’s three turnovers.
Sylvester suffered a hamstring injury during the Steelers’ most recent victory over the Lions, and losing their top reserve inside linebacker will be a big blow to their special teams units. Although he was released by the team prior to the regular season, Sylvester has done a solid job on special teams for Pittsburgh last month.
For the sake of Pittsburgh’s special teams units, I hope that both are able to suit up against the Browns. If they are unable to though, then the Steelers will need strong efforts from the likes of their younger special teams contributors like Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Antwon Blake, Kion Wilson, and Jarvis Jones.
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