Add backup nose tackle Chris Hoke to Pittsburgh's lengthy injury report. The nine-year veteran suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain in his right knee in the Steelers' 38-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He is expected to miss two weeks.â†µ
This is no small loss, especially with starter Casey Hampton nursing a hamstring injury. Hoke is the roster's only other true 3-4 nose tackle, so if Hampton can't play in next week's contest against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh's defensive front could be less than its usually dominant self. In that case, Mike Tomlin would expect Ziggy Hood, last year's first-round selection, to step up.â†µ
However, this injury cloud has a silver lining in that it comes at a pretty ideal time. The Steelers have a much-needed bye in Week 5, followed by a matchup against the
division's perennial punching bag Cleveland Browns. And in terms of its Week 4 contest, the status of Baltimore's phenomenal leading rusher, Ray Rice, is in doubt after the back suffered a knee sprain against the Browns.