PITTSBURGH — Reinforcements are coming for the Pittsburgh Steelers at exactly the right time.
The Steelers on Saturday activated two players from injured reserve: linebacker Robert Spillane and guard Matt Feiler. The two starters figure to be major factors in the wild-card matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night.
Spillane, who took the place of Devin Bush when he was injured in the Week 6 matchup against the Browns, has been a major factor in stopping the run — something that will be especially important against Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
“You watch Spillane play, you watch Derrick Henry run all year long, and then who do you see jacking him up? Spillane did that,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “I didn’t see a whole lot of people doing that to that guy this year. But Spillane did that. We are glad to have him back.”
Spillane, who has 39 solo tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pick-six, helps fortify an inside linebacker position that was down to just three healthy players at the end of the regular season.
“It helps the depth a lot,” Butler said of Spillane’s return from a knee injury. “Whether we start him or not, I will see if we do or not. It is going to help the depth quite a bit. Last week when we went into the game … we had three inside linebacker and three outside linebackers, so we were short. … I feel much better about that position now than I did last week. I think we will be OK.”
On the line, Feiler is expected to replace rookie guard Kevin Dotson, who’s been holding down the position since Feiler’s pectoral injury. Dotson has played well, but Feiler’s experience will likely give him the job over Dotson.
“[Feiler] worked awful hard to get to this position, and I’m proud of him,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichter said. “I’m proud of all the group who came out to work the other day. I think it’s a unique situation because we’re finally maybe getting healthier as a group.”