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Steelers could just activate Dixon as third QB

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is listed as questionable for Monday's game at San Francisco with a high-ankle sprain. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he'll consider activating Dennis Dixon as a third quarterback if Roethlisberger is unable to practice this week.

"Obviously, if we go into this game with Ben less than 100 percent, three quarterbacks is a potential option," Tomlin said. "We'll get all our quarterbacks ready. If he's going to play, he's going to practice.

"As we get closer to situational football, everyone who's going to be a participant needs reps. Right now, we're trying to get him as healthy as possible on a day-to-day basis."

Tomlin dismissed the possibility of holding out Roethlisberger against San Francisco to ensure he's ready for the playoffs.

"If he's healthy enough to play, he'll play," Tomlin said. "I don't play that game."

Injury report

In addition to Roethlisberger, several other starters were listed as questionable yesterday. Strong safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring), outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and center Maurkice Pouncey (high-ankle strain) will be evaluated throughout the week.

"Under the circumstances with James Harrison, it would benefit us to have LaMarr Woodley," Tomlin said. "The guys who are available to us are the guys we'll work with. You lose guys because of injuries or a suspension, the standard is still the standard. We won't blink in that regard."

Also, linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) is questionable. Tomlin said he's confident that both wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and defensive end Ziggy Hood (groin strain) will participate in today's practice.

Kemoeatu's struggles

Tomlin appears frustrated with the play of guard Chris Kemoeatu, who committed three penalties against the Browns. When asked if Kemoeatu's performance is because of injuries, Tomlin quipped, "He's playing illegally, so he's getting penalized. He either has to change his technique or improve his technique — or he won't be given an opportunity to do so."

Tough test

Tomlin said San Francisco is just the test the Steelers need as they make a final push to wrest the AFC North title from Baltimore, which plays at San Diego on Sunday.

"They are not a good team, but a great team," Tomlin said of the 49ers. "This is the kind of challenge you need this time of year, particularly on the road to get a measuring stick for where you are. You add into it a little adversity through injuries and a suspension, we'll get a chance to see what kind of outfit we're made of."

Limiting miscues

San Francisco's defense is No. 1 against the run and in points allowed.

"It's all a recipe for a winning team," Tomlin said. The 49ers have forced 31 turnovers and have a league-leading turnover ratio of plus-21.

"They are also during a good job of protecting the football," Tomlin said. "They are doing a nice job of staying out of bad positions."

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