Steelers Insiders Provide Grim Update on Cole Holcomb Injury

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made two exciting additions at inside linebacker this offseason. First, they signed Patrick Queen to a franchise record-setting contract. Then, they grabbed Dick Butkus winner Payton Wilson in the third round of the 2024 NFL draft.

Steelers Place Linebacker on Injured Reserve

But there’s still no word about when those two players will get the opportunity to play with incumbent Steelers linebacker Cole Holcomb.

Holcomb suffered a season-ending knee injury during Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans last year. He left the game on a cart and didn’t return.

The Steelers ruled Holcomb out for the rest of the season the day after his injury. But the team has yet to provide a more thorough label to the ailment other than “knee injury.”

On May 8, ESPN’s Brooke Pryor and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo didn’t have a more specific name for Holcomb’s injury. But each had bleak updates on Holcomb’s recovery.

“Holcomb was playing really well last season until he had a season-ending knee injury, and that’s been a pretty significant injury,” Pryor said while appearing on The Adam Gold Show. “My understanding is it’s not just a simple ACL tear, and they’re being very vague on what the specific injury is.”

Pryor added that Holcomb’s timeline to return “isn’t quite clear.”

Fittipaldo used context clues to provide his own update on the inside linebacker.

“Based on their moves in free agency and the draft I am betting they are not counting on much of a contribution from Holcomb this season, if at all,” Fittipaldo wrote as an answer in a fan chat. “They signed Patrick Queen to the richest free agent deal in franchise history and selected Payton Wilson in the third round of the draft. Plus, Elandon Roberts is back for another season.

“If Holcomb does play this season I don’t think it will be early in the season.”

Before his injury, Holcomb was among the Steelers leaders in tackles and defensive snaps last season. In eight games, he had 54 combined tackles, including 4 tackles for loss. He also had 2 quarterback hits, 2 pass defenses and 2 forced fumbles.

When Will LB Cole Holcomb Return for Steelers?

Although the Steelers have been vague with Holcomb’s injury, it’s clear the ailment is very serious.

Steelers general manager Omar Khan told reporters at the NFL combine that he wasn’t sure about the linebacker’s recovery timeline. That’s highly unusual for an injury that occurred four months earlier.

The assumption has been since Holcomb’s injury that he tore his ACL. The typical recovery time for an ACL tear is 6-12 months. In recent years, NFL players have returned closer to the shorter end of that timeframe.

Given those facts and Pryor’s comments on The Adam Gold Show, Holcomb is likely dealing with something besides just an ACL tear. He could have another injury in his knee in addition to the ACL tear, or he could be dealing with something else entirely such as a patellar tendon tear.

But the only known fact is Holcomb suffered a knee injury. To suggest anything else as fact is speculation.

Holcomb Posts Workout Video

While Pryor and Fittipaldo had disappointing updates on Holcomb’s return, there was one positive sign for his recovery in March.

Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora reported on March 19 that Holcomb posted a workout video on his Instagram story.

“Working with well-known trainer Pete Bommarito, Holcomb shared clips to his Instagram story of him at the gym,” Kozora wrote. “You can see him wearing a black sleeve on his left knee.

“Holcomb was working upper body and not shown doing any leg workouts. But the fact he’s on his feet and training is a positive sign.”

If there’s any other positive news with Holcomb, he is under contract beyond 2024. So, should he not be able to play much in 2024, Holcomb could still return fully healthy for Pittsburgh in 2025.

The Steelers signed the linebacker to a 3-year, $18 million contract last offseason.

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