Maurkice Pouncey sustained a leg injury in the first quarter of the Thursday night contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans. He was injured on the very first offensive play of the game for the Steelers.
Pouncey did not return to the game and was replaced by fourth-year pro Doug Legursky.
But Pouncey’s injury wasn’t the only one the Steelers suffered.
Offensive linemen were going down like dominoes. Marcus Gilbert went down in the second quarter. Ramon Foster got injured after that. Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com reported that Foster returned to the game, and Gilbert was the emergency replacement should any other linemen have gotten get hurt.
That’s because there were no more linemen left.
The avalanche of injuries spread to the team’s running backs. Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman also left the game early due to getting hurt.
Mendenhall left the game with six carries for six yards and one catch for 11 yards.
Redman ran the ball five times for 14 yards but caught four passes for 105 yards.
Pittsburgh no longer has the benefit of a bye week to use to recover from its recent injuries this season. The team had an off week in Week 4.
If Pouncey is unable to return to the field in Week 7 after a 10-day gap between games, Legursky has played well enough for the Steelers to keep moving on offense in the short term while Pouncey makes his way back.
Without Pouncey (and the running backs), the Steelers offense will likely either be forced to relegate tight end Heath Miller to blocking duties in order to go downfield to Mike Wallace or go with a more short-area passing game.
Pittsburgh will need all the help they can get for its interior offensive line as soon as possible.
Its next game is against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, where the Steelers will encounter defensive tackle and sack artist Geno Atkins.
Atkins has six sacks in five games on the year.