Max Starks, OT
Starks suffered a neck injury in Week 9 against the Bengals. Starks was initially thought to have a stinger, but it was later revealed that he suffered a disc injury in his upper vertebrae. He was placed on IR in November and is expected to undergo neck surgery. The injury isn’t considered career-threatening, however.
Aaron Smith, DE
Smith tore his left triceps in a Week 7 contest against the Dolphins. The Steelers didn’t place him on IR, but he never made it back to the field. Injuries have marred three of Smith’s last four years, as he tore his right rotator cuff in 2009 and tore his right biceps in 2007. Sophomore defensive end Ziggy Hood has emerged during Smith’s absence, softening the blow of losing the 3-4 stalwart.
Willie Colon, OT
Colon’s year ended before the Steelers reported to Latrobe. The bruising right tackle, who had started 54 consecutive games including the playoffs, tore his right Achilles while working out in late June. A restricted free agent during the NFL’s uncapped 2010 season, Colon’s contract status for 2011 is still unknown. If a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by March 1, Colon will be a restricted free agent.
Dennis Dixon, QB
Dixon started the Steelers’ first two games of the season, filling in during Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension, but he suffered a torn left meniscus in Week 2 against the Titans. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn cartilage a few days later and was placed on the IR in early October. While at Oregon, Dixon tore his left ACL. If his knee is sound, Dixon has a good shot of entering 2011 as Roethlisberger’s backup.
Dan Sepulveda, P
For the third time since his college days at Baylor, Sepulveda tore his right (non-kicking) ACL in Week 13 against the Ravens. Sepulveda posted a career best in net punting average and ranked sixth in the NFL before his injury, but his long-term durability is in question.
Limas Sweed, WR
Sweed tore his left Achilles tendon during minicamp practice in early May. The Steelers’ second-round pick in the 2008 draft has just seven career receptions. Sweed is under contract for 2011, but his career prospects in Pittsburgh are dim considering the development of rookie wide outs Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.
James Harrison was scheduled to have what his agent described as “minor” shoulder surgery sometime in February… Rookie Maurkice Pouncey, whose ankle injuries kept him out of Super Bowl XLV, is expected to be back to 100 percent in time for the first mini-camp… Troy Polamalu was close to 100 percent for the Super Bowl and shouldn’t experience any issues in the off-season… Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not expected to need surgery on his injured foot, although it still remains a possibility.