The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacking corps has been hit hard by injuries this preseason, creating opportunities for lesser-known players to make an impact and the final 53-man roster. James Harrison, Jason Worilds, and Stevenson Sylvester are three linebackers who have either already missed significant time or will be missing significant time.
Harrison has been on the preseason PUP list with a nagging knee issue, but his agent expects him to be ready for the start of the regular season. Worilds has also been on the PUP list since the start of camp with a wrist injury. The latest to go down was Sylvester, who suffered a torn MCL last Friday at training camp. He's expected to miss three to four weeks, opening up yet another spot at linebacker.
Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times writes that veteran Brandon Johnson may be stepping up to fill the void and has a shot of making the final 53-man roster. Johnson talked about the competition at the depleted linebacker level (via Bires):
"We have a lot of competition in our linebacker room. But things have been going alright for me," Johnson said. "I'm just trying to fit into the Steelers' defense. I'm just trying to establish a role for myself."
Johnson has been a reserve for the AFC North rival Bengals during his four-year career, but with the three injuries, he could be entrenching himself as a key contributor for Dick LeBeau.