The Pittsburgh Steelers have spent all season juggling running backs based on who is healthy and who’s hot.
Now it is the wide receivers’ turn.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely be without receiver Antonio Brown when they host reeling Kansas City next Monday night. Brown sprained his right ankle early in a 24-20 victory over the N.Y Giants last Sunday and Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t expect Brown being available.
”We’ll see where the week takes us, we’ll leave the door ajar but usually (sprained ankles) aren’t positive things, particularly for someone who earns a living the way that he earns a living,” Tomlin said.
Brown leads the Steelers (5-3) with 42 receptions and is 2nd on the team with 499 yards receiving. If he can’t go, 3rd-year wideout Emmanuel Sanders will probably take Brown’s place in the starting lineup.
Sanders caught 2 passes against the Giants, including a 4-yard touchdown, and added a 63-yard punt return in place of normal return specialists Brown and Chris Rainey, who left the game with a rib injury. Veteran Jerricho Cotchery will move into Sanders’ spot as the 3rd receiver.
Cotchery has taken on a smaller role in his 2nd year in Pittsburgh as the trio of Sanders, Brown and Mike Wallace matured, but Cotchery tied for a team-high 4 receptions against N.Y, doubling his season total.
”He’s not a luxury (but) a necessity,” Tomlin recounted of Cotchery. ”We need quality men that are capable of upholding the standard … He’s been consistently pro and prepared, when 1 of 3 guys at the wide out position go down, we don’t bat an eye.”
Safety Troy Polamalu and right tackle Marcus Gilbert have already been rejected against Chiefs, though Tomlin believes both can practice this week in a limited capacity. Polamalu played in only 2 games this season due to a right calf injury while Gilbert has missed a month.
The typically tight-lipped Tomlin is pleased with his team’s progress during its current 3-game winning streak. The Steelers have gotten consistent performance out of the running game irrespective of who is in the backfield.
Isaac Redman rushed for a career-high 147 yards against the Giants in place of Jonathan Dwyer, who sat out with a strained right quad. Dwyer had topped 100 yards in the previous 2 games while filling in for both Redman and Rashard Mendenhall.
There’s a possibility all 3 backs might be ready against Kansas City, leaving Tomlin with a tough choice, one he is not willing to make just yet. Baseball scores
”Whoever’s being productive when healthy will get the totes,” Tomlin said. ”I really think it’s that simple. I’m not going to make it any more complex than it has to be. At times this season we’ve had a running-back-by-committee approach because none of them had been overly effective at that time.
”When somebody’s effective, they’ll get the ball.”