Steelers notebook: Team down to third option at key line positions
Ben Roethlisberger, who hasn't been sacked in two games, might be protected Sunday by the Steelers' No. 3 left tackle and center.
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (sprained left knee) is questionable, and backup Mike Adams (ankle) also might not be ready. Guy Whimper starts if neither can go.
With Maurkice Pouncey and Fernando Velasco out, Cody Wallace is expected to make his first start at center. Right guard David DeCastro (left foot sprain) also is questionable; his apparent replacement is the newly signed Eric Olsen, unless Whimper isn't needed to start at tackle.
“We'll make do as we always do,” coach Mike Tomlin said.”We acknowledge that there are some issues in that area we're working on.”
• Roethlisberger explained in detail why the Steelers ran their planned two-point conversion play on Jerricho Cotchery's late-game touchdown catch.
Because apparent touchdowns by Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell were reversed upon video review, “The whole sequence was unusual,” the quarterback said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio show. “The ref told me and coach (Tomlin) that '(Bell) was in, it's already confirmed. You're good.' In our minds, we're getting the two-point play ready. We go to the line of scrimmage, and they blow the whistle and say they're going to review it.
“We're like, 'What do you mean review? You just told us it was good.' … It just got us off our pace, and now it's fourth down and we got to run our two-point play.”
• In three games at left outside linebacker, Jason Worilds has two sacks, 12 QB hits, 4 hurries and 18 tackles. He is playing so well there, Tomlin said LaMarr Woodley could be shifted to the right side when he's healthy.
Woodley has missed three games with a calf injury.
“The work we've gotten from Worilds, particularly on the left side of our defense, has been impressive and has not gone unnoticed by me,” Tomlin said.
Worilds has twice as many quarterback hits in those three games as Woodley (6) has all season.
• Center/guard David Snow (6-4, 303), a former Texas lineman who was an undrafted rookie free agent with the Bills in 2012, was signed Tuesday. Center Brandon Jones was added to the practice squad in place of cornerback Devin Smith. The Steelers had a 53-man roster exemption after former Browns lineman Rashad Butler left the team Monday for personal reasons, two days after signing.
• Roethlisberger still wishes the Steelers would have gone to the no-huddle offense sooner than they did against the Ravens. He was surprised it ran as efficiently as it did in the second half. “Who knew you could do that in Baltimore?” he said on his radio show, referring to the usual difficulties that crowd noise presents when calling plays out of the shotgun formation. “Obviously, looking back, you wish we could have gone it to sooner,” he said.
• Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are among the Steelers who have stayed in touch with former teammate Mike Wallace, who returns to Pittsburgh on Sunday. “He gets frustrated because he wants to make plays,” Roethlisberger said, referring to Wallace's falloff in production with Miami. “He wants to help his team. … We miss him, not just as a playmaker, but as a teammate and friend.”
• Wide receiver Antonio Brown continues to lead the NFL with 85 catches, one more than Pierre Garcon of Washington. Brown needs 296 yards to break Yancey Thigpen's single-season franchise record of 1,398 yards receiving in 1997.
• Cornerbacks Cortez Allen (113 yards allowed) and Ike Taylor (47 yards) were targeted frequently by the Ravens. “I'm not interested in assigning blame,” Tomlin said. “I accept responsibility for it like our guys in the secondary do. We've got to be better.”
• Tomlin on the Steelers still being in the playoff race despite their 5-7 record: “We have enough information to understand that we don't need to look outside of what it is that we're doing right here, right now, and that's preparing to play and defeat the Miami Dolphins. That's where our energy should be.”