The Raiders aren’t the only team that’s a little beat up on defense right now. The Steelers played last week without James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, two of their signature players. Neither has practiced this week.
The Steelers have a slew of players who are slightly dinged up as well. That list includes Heath Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Mike Adams and Jonathan Dwyer among others. If any of those players are not at 100 percent on Sunday, the Steelers will have to find a way to overcome it.
Mike Tomlin will tell anyone that injuries are not an excuse for performance. This has always been his mantra and the Steelers have usually found a way to step up and deal with hurt players.
Last week, Ryan Mundy did an excellent job replacing Polamalu. While I have questioned Mundy’s place on this roster before, I think he showed that he can be effective at strong safety. That’s important because Polamalu isn’t getting any younger and he gets banged up a lot.
The absence of Harrison has been more troubling, but the Steelers have adjusted their blitz schemes to cover it up. It really hurts them in run defense, where Chris Carter has trouble setting the edge and disengaging from blockers.
If the Steelers can rise to the occasion once again, they’ll be just fine against Oakland.