It was already known that Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton suffered a groin injury in Sunday's loss at Philadelphia, and we knew there was a good chance it would keep him out of Monday night's game against division rival Baltimore. So, it wasn't much of a surprise when Head Coach Mike Tomlin ruled Hampton, a 4-time Pro Bowl selection, out for this weeks game.
It was, however, a gigantic surprise, and a pretty heavy punch to the gut, when Tomlin told the media that Starting running back Willie Parker has also been ruled out. Tomlin described Parker's injury as a "knee sprain," and that he suffered it late in the game on Sunday. A reporter asked Tomlin if it was an MCL sprain, and Tomlin responded by simply saying it was "a knee sprain" and that he'll be "week-to-week."
This is a huge loss for the Steelers' offense, but it's also a gigantic opportunity for first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, who will be getting the bulk of the carries against an always tough Ravens defense. Mendenhall has been used sparingly over the first three weeks, and hasn't had a carry since the season opener against Houston.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, Chris Hoke will be taking over Hampton's spot in the middle of the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. Hoke is a solid veteran, and has started for Hampton in the past, and he's probably going to get plenty of work facing a Ravens offense that is averaging 45 rush attempts per game this year.
The Steelers also without starting defensive end Brett Keisel, who suffered a calf injury in the team's week two win against Cleveland.