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Steelers notebook: T.J. Watt, Marcus Gilbert out vs. Bears; Stephon Tuitt questionable

Chris Adamski
| Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, 8:12 p.m.
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt pressures Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt pressures Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard plays against the Vikings Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard plays against the Vikings Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.

After Sunday's game in which he played fewer than two quarters, T.J. Watt said he was “not too worried” about the groin injury that had prevented him from playing longer.

Three days later, the Steelers rookie linebacker said it “wasn't anything serious.”

After missing two full practices, though, Watt was ruled out for Sunday's game in Chicago.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert also will not play. Gilbert has not practiced all week because of a hamstring injury, and he also has been dealing with an illness.

Gilbert will be replaced by Chris Hubbard, who will be making his sixth career start. Four have come as an offensive lineman, and twice, the first play the Steelers ran involved Hubbard as an extra tight end. Last season, Hubbard filled in for Gilbert for three October games.

When Watt left last week's home win against Minnesota, Anthony Chickillo replaced him. The Steelers' official depth chart, though, lists 39-year-old James Harrison as Watt's backup. Arthur Moats also has rotated in at outside linebacker at times.

Tuitt questionable

After what he called “a great week” in which he practiced fully and got first-team reps Thursday and Friday, defensive end Stephon Tuitt officially was listed as questionable because of a biceps injury suffered two weeks ago.

“I did everything in my power to be more physical, did everything to push things,” Tuitt said after practice Friday. “But it's a resting period for (Friday night), and we are going to see (Saturday) how it feels.

“I know I got it stronger. I got it super strong, actually. But at the end of the day, it's still about football technique and you being able to do what's good for your position, so that's what we are trying to figure out right now.”

Also questionable is backup offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins.

Tight end Jesse James (ankle) was removed from the injury report after practicing fully Friday. Linebacker Bud Dupree (shoulder) and safety J.J. Wilcox (concussion) also were cleared to play.

Dancing with the … linemen?

Former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Antonio Brown insisted he is “not really” the lead choreographer for the Steelers' touchdown celebrations. With the league loosening its rules against such displays, the Steelers twice did a faux group dice-roll after scoring Sunday.

“We're just happy to be in the end zone, happy to get the win and happy to have a good time,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we can get some offensive linemen in there with us.”

The new concern with a celebration not costing the team: getting it done in quick fashion. Officials have been instructed to immediately begin the play clock after a score.

“We can't take too long celebrating,” Brown said. “We've got to be able to give Boz (kicker Chris Boswell) enough time … to get the play off.”

A Rooney race

In another honor for late Steelers chairman and Hall of Famer Dan Rooney, a harness race has been named after him.

The inaugural Dan Rooney Pace will be run Oct. 14 at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, the track the Rooney family purchased in 1972 and where Dan's brother, Tim, is the president and CEO.

With a purse of $250,000, the Dan Rooney Pace is part of a $3.3 million harness racing card highlighted by the $1 million Yonkers International Trot.

“My brother's contributions in sports and to the community were significant, many and lasting,” Tim Rooney said in a statement. “It is appropriate that we pay tribute to him annually with the Dan Rooney Pace on our biggest day of the year on the Yonkers International Trot card.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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