Steelers notebook: Team will be at full health for Sunday's game at Indianapolis
Barring something unforeseen, the Steelers are poised to pull off a rarity in the NFL, particularly during this injury-plagued season across the league.
All 22 starters are healthy and are on track to play Sunday at Indianapolis.
According to the Steelers' official injury report, the only player unavailable against the Colts will be 39-year-old linebacker James Harrison, who did not practice all week because of what the team said is a back injury.
The only other player on the injury report this week, safety Mike Mitchell, was not given any designation Friday, meaning he is expected to play despite an Achilles injury.
“I took every rep (Thursday), I took every rep (Friday),” Mitchell said after Friday's practice. “At end of the day, if coach tells me to play, I go in and play. ... I think I had a good week of practice.”
As a way of stressing he was going to be as cautious as possible, Mitchell noted the ruptured Achilles that Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman suffered in Thursday night's game. But the team has not put any official restrictions on their starting free safety of the past four years.
Robert Golden and J.J. Wilcox would have filled in for Mitchell had he not been able to play.
Mitchell being cleared, coupled with full practice weeks and clean bills of health for tackle Marcus Gilbert and defensive end Stephon Tuitt, mean the Steelers are a healthy starting team.
The Colts not as healthy
The Colts ruled out for Sunday because of injury are starting linebacker John Simon and reserve receiver Kamar Aiken.
Of course, Indianapolis has 12 players on its season-ending injured reserve list, including star quarterback Andrew Luck and starters Henry Anderson (placed on IR on Thursday), Jack Mewhort, Malik Hooker (New Castle), Deyshawn Bond and Edwin Jackson. Plus, veteran cornerback Vontae Davis was released Thursday after being benched while playing through injury.
“Vontae is a tough player, a strong tackler, a guy who always wanted the competitive matchup covering the best guy on the opposing team's offense,” Steelers receiver Antonio Brown said.
Villanueva hands out Army decals
Alejandro Villanueva distributed helmet decals to each of his teammates this week, each one representing an army division. A former Army Ranger and West Point alum, Villanueva reached out to the school to send him the decals, which he took care in attempting to match up with a teammate who best fit each division's mission or geographic location.
Villanueva said the logo of your unit carries special significance and meaning to a veteran.
“On Sundays, people who are watching the game, they are going to see the patch,” Villanueva said. “(Veterans) will see the patch, and I don't have to say anything. They're going to identify with that patch.”
Like all other teams during the NFL's “Salute to Service” in November, the backs of Steelers helmets also will be adorned by logos of the military's branches.
No Brown empathy for Green
If you expected Brown to take the side of his counterpart after the on-field fight between Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey last week, you would be wrong.
“I don't care. (Green is) not a Steeler,” Brown said. “Doesn't matter to me, right?”
Green reportedly was fined $42,000 for an incident with Ramsey during last Sunday's game in which Green put Ramsey in a choke hold and punched him after being shoved by Ramsey. Both players were ejected from the game. Green has been contrite since, although he referred to cheap shots from Ramsey that fueled a slew of verbal jabs back from Ramsey (via the media).
Brown didn't have any empathy for Green's ejection or fine.
“You can't ever lose your head,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, you're a football player, and you can't lose the fact of doing your job and can't get outside that realm.”
Brown wasn't disciplined for the incident, but he drew criticism for angrily tossing a Gatorade cooler after being upset he wasn't thrown to during a play during a Oct. 1 game at Baltimore.