The Steelers received some positive news on the injury front Tuesday. Injuries to two starting offensive linemen, right guard David DeCastro and left guard Ramon Foster, are not serious and both could play Sunday at New England after they had to be replaced in the 21-18 loss at Oakland. Also, reserve guard and tackle Guy Whimper, who also had to leave the Raiders game early with a knee injury, should be available as well.
Foster sustained a concussion in the first half and played only 15 snaps. Whimper and DeCastro, who sustained an ankle injury, both had to leave in the second half. Tomlin said Foster has been cleared to return to practice. Whimper and DeCastro will be limited in practice early in the week and Tomlin said the possibility exists that both will be available Sunday.
In other injury news, receiver Markus Wheaton, who has missed the past three games with a finger injury, is being evaluated and could return to practice as well.
While the Steelers might not have to play with reserves on the offensive line, Tomlin did make one demotion of note. Rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones, who was elevated to starting status after the first game, is now second on the depth chart at right outside linebacker behind Jason Worilds, who opened the season as the starter.
“He’s just not doing enough detail work right now and Jason Worilds is,” Tomlin said today at his weekly news conference. “That’s the reality of it. There is more detail in Worilds’ work right now than Jarvis.”
It was the fifth time this season Tomlin demoted a starter in favor of a reserve. He benched Mike Adams, Ziggy Hood, Kion Wilson and Cortez Allen in previous weeks.
Jones played just 11 snaps against the Raiders while Worilds played 52. Tomlin said Jones has a chance to work his way back into the coaching staff’s good graces.
“He’s got to play better from an assignment standpoint,” Tomlin said. “If he can do that he’ll be given an opportunity to do that now.”
Tomlin said punter Zoltan Mesko performed better in the second half after bobbling a snap that led to a blocked punt in the first quarter, but he stopped short of saying Mesko will definitely be the team’s punter this week.
“I’m not opposed to evaluating anyone at any position,” Tomlin said. “Those are the things we do this time of the week.”
The loss to the Raiders snapped a two-game winning streak. On Sunday, they fell behind 21-3 at halftime. It was the third time this season they fell behind by 10 points or more in the first half of a game. They trailed Chicago, 17-0, at the end of the first quarter in the third game of the season and, 17-7, against Minnesota.
“We, as a coaching staff, take responsibility for the manner in which the game is started,” Tomlin said. “We have to do everything in our power to give them a chance to have success. Obviously, we didn’t do that. Positively or negatively, the starts of games don’t determine the outcomes of games. We have to play football for 60 minutes and winning football.”
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.