Mark Barron, Linebacker – Out (Hamstring)
Barron is a safety converted into a linebacker, so he is more valuable for the Steelers in combatting the passing game rather than the running game. His listed backup is Devin Bush, who is in line to take Barron’s job with his performance anyway. Thus, without Barron, the Chargers may try more passes over the middle (especially if Henry is able to go), but the talent level at the Steelers’ second level remains the same.
Anthony Chickillo, Linebacker – No injury designation (Foot)
Chickillo is a backup to the talented edge rusher T.J. Watt. He will simply be used to spell Watt against the Chargers.
Steve Nelson, Cornerback – Questionable (Groin)
Mike Hilton, Cornerback – No injury designation (Foot)
Nelson and Hilton have both been rock-solid for the Steelers as starting outside and slot cornerbacks this year, with grades from PFF of 77.2 and 73.2, respectively. While neither has been ruled out of this game, having two of three starting corners with an injury designation is never a good place for a team to start.
If either is pushed out of the game, even just for a few snaps, expect Philip Rivers to attack that backup corner. The backups, Artie Burns and Cameron Sutton, have performed well in limited snaps, but the Steelers would prefer them not be tested.
Injury Impact Analysis
Pittsburgh Steelers Injury Impact: 9.5
When your team is forced to start an undrafted rookie quarterback, there will inherently be a massive injury impact. The situation is made even worse when two of the team’s pass-catchers (Washington and McDonald) are injured.
The defense is still strong, but there are also injuries for the Steelers at corner. The Steelers are one of the hardest-hit teams by injuries this year.
Los Angeles Chargers Injury Impact: 7
The Chargers injury impact is far lower this week than it has been in past weeks. Why?
The possibility of Henry returning has the ability to jump-start the Chargers offense in a way that Gordon was unable to do in his return last week. Furthermore, the position in which the Chargers have been hit hardest by injuries (safety) will be less important against this opponent than others, as the Steelers do not have a great downfield passing attack.