“32 teams start on this journey, we realize at the end of this thing there’s going to be one. To still have a horse in that race is exciting.”
Tomlin sounds pumped to be in the playoffs once again, and gives respect to the Broncos for winning their division. Regardless of their 8-8 record, the Steelers will be traveling to Denver to play on the road.
On the injury front: Rashard Mendenhall has a torn ACL and is out for the season. Tomlin is business as usual in relation to Rashard’s injury, says they’ll step up and move on, because that’s what you do when someone gets injured in the NFL. David Johnson hyper-extended his elbow against the Browns, he’ll be limited but should be OK. Big Ben’s ankle appears to be getting better, he’ll be limited in the early portions of the week, but will be good to go on Sunday. Cortez Allen is questionable at best with a right shoulder contusion. MeMo is questionable at best. Doug Legursky and LaMarr Woodley are both back in action. Ryan Clark will not be playing in the game this Sunday. This is due to his sickle-cell syndrome which the altitude exacerbated when he played there years ago. I think he had to have is gull bladder removed. It was bad. Clark hasn’t played in Denver since. Tomlin says Ryan Clark “might have a little coaching in his future” and will expect him to be a leader on the sidelines.
The Tebow story has been well documented. The Broncos buy in to what he is selling. He wins games (at least he did), and he is a natural charasmatic leader, per Tomlin. The Broncos run game is tops in the league, and the Steelers will have to contain Willis McGahee. Tomlin seems to really like the guys on the offensive line as well, which is a big reason the run game has been so effecting in Denver. Von Miller stands out on the defense and Tomlin likes what he sees when he watches tape on him. Tomlin spends longer than usual really stroking the other team’s ego this week. It must be because it is playoff time.
The Steelers have reacquired Anthony Madison to get mixed up in Special Teams. After losing Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown, they’re thin in terms of good ST players who make splash plays.
Per a question, Keenan Lewis did have a hamstring issue against the Browns but an MRI was done Monday on his hamstring and it showed little to no damage. This is a significant player right now as Lewis has proved to be someone who can play well on third downs at corner and in nickel and dime packages. Let’s hope this injury doesn’t get worse, cause that could really hurt down the stretch.
Tomlin says there is a strong chance that Legursky will be back starting at Left Guard this week, but they have to assess his ability based on being out with a shoulder injury for the last couple of weeks. LaMarr will play in the game, but whether he will practice fully this week is to be determined. Woodley had to come out a few weeks ago because of being tired, so it’s important that he gets a lot of time in practice to be able to get back in top shape for the playoffs.
Bryant McFadden sightings have happened as of late due to the injuries in the secondary, and Tomlin says if McFadden has to play, he’ll be ready. “The lights aren’t too bright for Bryant McFadden.”
Tomlin brushed off Isaac Redman’s two late game fumbles against the Browns saying they are happy with the way he runs the ball and comfortable with his ball security. Personally, I’m pretty bummed out about the Rashard injury. He was really starting to hit a stride as a runner, averaging just over 4 YPC through the Browns game, and I was expecting big things from him in the playoffs. I’ve said it on this blog before: Issac Redman is not a feature back. He still has yet to play a full game as a feature back without mistake and/or injury. Everyone at the Steelers bar I go to has been begging for Isaac to take over and they get their wish this week. I told them a couple weeks ago to be careful what they wish for. Isaac Redman is a great change-of-pace back, but he is not built to be a feature back. I am sure we will see a healthy dose of John Clay, who lucked out this year due to all the injuries. If you remember, Clay almost quit during preseason because he was so frustrated. Nearly walked off the field. Let’s hope he can turn it around in a big way against the Broncos. Don’t get me wrong about Redman, I sincerely hope I am wrong. I just think you’re asking for trouble late in the game from a guy who isn’t used to carrying that kind of load. Either injury, or as we witnessed against the Browns, mistakes.
That was it for the press conference. Let’s hope I’m writing up another one of these things next week.
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