The news was better than anticipated for the Steelers regarding long-snapper Greg Warren’s knee, injured during Wednesday’s practice with the Buffalo Bills at Saint Vincent College.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday that Warren will require surgery to repair a meniscus injury in his knee and could be out as long as four weeks.
The Steelers had intially feared the injury could be season-ending.
It still could be into the regular season before Warren returns, leaving the Steelers looking for a short-team replacement for the 10-year veteran, who is one of just five players on the current roster who were part of both Super Bowl championships in the 2000s.
“We’ll get him fixed and get him back to us as quickly as we can,” said Tomlin.
With Warren out, the Steelers will give tight end Bryce Davis, who was cut by Cincinnati last August, and Luke Ingram, who was signed Thursday, a chance to be the long-snapper.
Ingram was with the Steelers in training camp last year.
“We’ve got some other candidates who are capable guys, some offensive linemen who have done it in the past,” said Tomlin. “Bryce is the leading candidate. That’s what he was brought in here to do. He kind of plays tight end on the side.”
It’s not a problem that Tomlin necessarily wanted to deal with. Then again, given that it just finished three weeks of practice with live tackling, losing a long-snapper for a few weeks isn’t the worst thing that could have happened.
The injury also could have occurred in a game, as a similar one did in 2008 when Warren suffered a torn ACL during against the New York Giants at Heinz Field. With Warren out, the Steelers turned to linebacker James Harrison as the long-snapper and, with the Steelers clinging to a 14-12 lead midway through the fourth quarter, he sent a snap sailing over the head of punter Mitch Berger for a safety.
“Like a lot of tasks, it doesn’t get a lot of attention unless something is negative,” Tomlin said. “I’ve got a great deal of respect for what Greg is capable of and the importance of the position.”
The Steelers not only wrapped up training camp Thursday, they also finished two days of practices with the Buffalo Bills leading up to their preseason game Saturday at Heinz Field.
The Steelers estimate that 8,000 fans attended Thursday’s practice, which ran from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and got heated at times.
Steelers center Cody Wallace and Buffalo defensive tackle Landon Cohen got into a fight that escalated quickly and had members of the Buffalo offense and Steelers defense running over from the adjacent field. Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (5-10, 186 pounds) took a swing at Bills 300-pound defensive tackle Kyle Williams during the ensuing scrum.
Then, in the final portion of 11-on-11 drills, Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes took offense to something Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum said to him, yelling at Beachum as he walked back to the sideline.
But when the final horn sounded to end practice, the teams came together for a quick word from Tomlin and Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone and some handshakes.
“It was all good,” said Steelers cornerback William Gay. “We got some good work out of it, and I think they did, too. They gave us some different looks and we were able to do the same for them. At the end of the day, it will help both teams get better.”
Odds and end zones
Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier was a full participant in practice for the first time in more than a week after suffering a bruised knee early last week. Tomlin said Shazier could play Saturday. … A myriad of Steelers were held out of practice, including center Maurkice Pouncey, fullback Will Johnson, guard Ramon Foster, linebackers Jarvis Jones, Vince Williams and Jordan Zumwalt and safety Will Allen. … Tomlin said Jones, who has a groin injury, could be held out of the game against the Bills.