The Steelers are coming off a disappointing loss in Denver that snapped their six-game winning streak.
But Mike Tomlin had some good news Tuesday regarding his team and its health. Tomlin expects injured defensive end Stephon Tuitt and right tackle Marcus Gilbert to return to the practice field Wednesday as the Steelers (7-3-1) begin preparations to host the Chargers (8-3) on Sunday night at Heinz Field.
"We anticipate Stephon Tuitt participating tomorrow, at least in some capacity, and letting that be a guide in terms of his march back," Tomlin said. "It's the same with Gilbert. It's good to get some of those guys back."
It's happening at a good time, especially for Tuitt, who has missed the past two games with a hyperextended right elbow.
Gilbert has missed the past five games with a mysterious knee injury suffered during the team's bye week. Without their starting right tackle in the lineup, however, the Steelers went 4-1, with the Steelers winning all four games started by Matt Feiler at right tackle. But Feiler missed the game against the Broncos with a pectoral muscle injury and rookie Chuks Okorafor started in his place.
Despite that, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked just two times and the Steelers had a season-high 527 yards of offense. But they only scored two touchdowns in the 24-17 loss thanks to a pair of turnovers that came inside the 5. The first was a fumble by Xavier Grimble at the Denver 1 in the first quarter, and the second was an interception from the 2 by Roethlisberger at the end of the game.
"I was really pleased with Chuks," Tomlin said. "I think we're showing some really unique depth at the tackle position. Sometimes, someone else's misfortune creates an opportunity for others. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention those guys meeting expectations, Matt Feiler has done it repeatedly in recent weeks, we've talked about that. But Matt's injury gave Chuks an opportunity and he was definitely above the line with his play."
Grimble is in concussion protocol as a result of the big hit he took at the goal line to cough up the football on the hit from safety Will Parks. Tomlin also said that tight end Vance McDonald (hip) and linebacker Bud Dupree (pectoral) could be limited in practice early this week, making them questionable to play against the Chargers.