PITTSBURGH -- Three starters missed practice on Thursday for the second day in a row, making Friday a critical day for left guard Ramon Foster, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley and defensive end Brett Keisel.
Foster appears to be the injured player most in doubt for Sunday as the fifth-year veteran has to overcome the sprained ankle that knocked him out of the Steelers’ 23-10 win over the Bills.
One of the most accessible players in the Steelers’ locker room, Foster did not make himself available in either media session on Thursday. That is almost always a sign that coach Mike Tomlin does not want a player to talk about an injury.
Guy Whimper said he has been playing left guard with the first-team offense this week, and that he is preparing to start Sunday when the Lions visit Heinz Field Sunday for a 1 p.m. game.
“But I prepare to start every week because you never know,” Whimper said. “It’s the NFL. Guys get banged up.”
The Steelers’ line is perpetually banged up but it is otherwise intact as left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip), center Fernando Velasco (knee), right guard David DeCastro (ankle) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) all practiced fully on Thursday.
The four had missed practice or been limited in drills on Wednesday.
“We’re kind of numb to it right now,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said of the injuries the Steelers have dealt with along their offensive line. “That’s the way it is. Everybody’s got their own problems, nobody cares about ours. These guys are working hard and know they have to be ready.”
The Steelers hope Woodley, who leads them with five sacks, is able to play on Sunday. The seventh-year veteran is nursing a calf injury that knocked him out of the Bills game.
“We hope to get LaMarr back,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He’s a great player for us.”
Keisel is the most likely of the three Steelers who have yet to practice this week to play against the Lions. The veteran defensive end has been dealing with planter fasciitis this week.
Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson missed practice for the second day in a row. Johnson has been dealing with a knee injury, but he is expected to play on Sunday.