PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers could be without two more key members of its defense against the Cleveland Browns after defensive lineman Chris Wormley and inside linebacker Joe Schobert were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
Though the NFL and NFL Players Association recently changed the protocols to reduce the mandatory isolation from 10 days to five days, contingent on the player being asymptomatic or demonstrating that his symptoms are resolving, it's still unlikely either Wormley or Schobert are available for Monday night's regular-season home finale against the Browns.
As of Friday, four Steelers defensive starters are on the reserve/COVID-19 list: Wormley, Schobert, NT Isaiah Buggs and ILB Devin Bush. Buggs, who's missed significant time with an ankle injury, went on the list on Dec. 23, while Bush landed on it a day earlier.
Defensive back Arthur Maulet, who is a prominent reserve, is also on the list.
The Steelers could be even more short-handed against a heavy run team after rookie inside linebacker Buddy Johnson also missed the last two games game with a foot injury and hasn't practiced this week.
Linebacker Robert Spillane figures to have a bigger role with the others out.
With six sacks, Wormley has been an unsung hero of the defensive line, also crucial in slowing the run game. Against the Browns in the Week 8 win, Wormley had one sack, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. If Wormley isn't activated, rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk will likely have an increased role.
With the Steelers inside linebacker group possibly down Schobert, Bush and Johnson, Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III are in line for big roles in a crucial AFC North matchup with playoff hopes on the line.