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Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers losing LB Ryan Shazier, G Ramon Foster would be a brutal blow

Dec. 20, 2015 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S - Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker RYAN SHAZIER (50) running out onto the field during pre game introductions. (Photo by Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

There’s the obvious good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into their Week 4 Sunday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. That is, the return of running back Le’Veon Bell is officially here. While DeAngelo Williams has done a stellar job filling in for Bell, the young running back is going to get a whole lot of work on Sunday, at least if you ask head coach Mike Tomlin. While Bell’s return will be the main topic for the Steelers, injuries to both LB Ryan Shazier and G Ramon Foster may be even more important.

As Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out, Shazier, Foster and wide receiver Eli Rogers are all considered to be “very questionable” for Week 4.

Shazier seemed like he may have been in the clear during the Week 3 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, as he re-injured the same knee that he tweaked in Week 1, but returned to the game. Foster was unable to return to the action after leaving with a chest injury, while Rogers suffered a toe injury, to the extent that remains unknown to this point.

While as NFL.com’s Kevin Patra points out, the focus is going to be on getting the ball to Bell a whole lot, the concern should probably be on the defensive side of the ball, as we know the Steelers offense should be just fine.

“His level of conditioning is not a concern to us,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “He’s a guy that’s highly conditioned over a 12-month calendar. We’ve seen him every day, he’s been a part of this, he’s been in the building, he’s up to speed on what we’re doing from a schematic standpoint, really in tune here. We’ll see how sharp he is physically once we get him out on the practice field and kind of go from there but rest assured, you’re going to see Le’Veon Bell and probably a lot of him on Sunday.”

The more Bell the better, but Foster missing this game would obviously impact the run game in some form or fashion. If he’s unable to go, Bell’s start to the season may be a bit tougher sledding than he originally anticipated.

Even with that said, the real concern may still be with that defense. The Steelers have struggled to keep opponents from racking up the yards through three games. They currently rank No. 27 in total yards per game allowed at 407.3, while sitting at No. 31 in the league in passing yards per game allow with 332.

Regardless of how you look at it, the Steelers are still 2-1, even if their 34-3 loss to the Eagles was a bit shocking, to say the least. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz picked apart the Steelers, and they were completely unable to stop anything Philadelphia did in Week 3. Regardless, the status of Shazier, Foster, and even Rogers will be worth monitoring over the coming days, as the Steelers will look to bounce back from the first, and what may wind up being their biggest loss of 2016.

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