By Daniel Benjamin
The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter their AFC divisional round playoff game with a full squad according to head coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers (11-3) entered the week with a couple of injury concerns, but that number quickly grew with corner Artie Burns and defensive end Stephon Tuitt suffering injuries during Wednesday’s practice. Javon Hargrave also suffered an injury this week. However, all three players were full practice participants on Friday.
Burns and Tuitt missed Thursday’s practice after being limited on Wednesday. Burns hyperextended his right knee during Wednesday’s practice, but always planned on playing against the Jaguars (11- 6).
“Once I just make it through the week as healthy as I can and be prepared for Sunday,” Burns told Penn-Live.
Burns underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed no major damage. It was a non-contact injury.
Burns, rated as the 51st corner by Pro Football Focus this year, led the team with 13 passes defensed to go along with one interception. The 2016 first round selection also registered 54 tackles, including 47 solos this year. He has yet to miss a game in his career.
Tuitt suffered an elbow injury on Wednesday, but the player said the injury was minor in nature and had always expected to play on Sunday. The 24-year-old end compiled 25 tackles and three sacks to go along with six tackles for losses in 12 games this season. He is rated as PFF’s 15th best interior defensive lineman in the league.
Hargrave was a new addition to the team’s injury report on Thursday after missing practice with a back injury. The extent of the second-year nose tackle injury was never disclosed.
If Hagrave’s back flares up and he is unable to go, it would be a huge setback for the Steelers as his likely matchup against Jacksonville’s center Brandon Linder is one of the key battles to watch.
Hargrave, PFF’s 48th rated interior lineman, had his best game of the season against the Jaguars (Week 5), compiling 10 tackles in the game. For the season, he registered 31 tackles along with two sacks in 16 games, including 12 starts.
Reserve defensive linemen Tyson Alualu or LT Walton would likely replace Hargrave in the lineup if something unexpectedly prevents him from playing. Alualu, who made five starts this year, has had one of the best seasons of his career in his inaugural season with the Steelers. He registered 39 tackles and a career-high 4 sacks. His most productive game of the season…