Steelers notebook: Players have faith in Toussaint

Mark Kaboly
| Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, 6:03 p.m.

Stop if you heard this one before: The Steelers' featured running back gets hurt in the first half of the season finale, putting his status for the upcoming AFC wild-card playoff game against a division foe up for grabs.

Last year, it was Le'Veon Bell. This year, it is DeAngelo Williams.

Williams injured his ankle in the first half of Sunday's 28-12 win over the Browns. He was wearing a walking boot following the game and was at the Steelers' practice facility on Monday, but no update was provided.

However, unlike last year when the Steelers signed Ben Tate off the street and started him in the playoff loss to the Ravens, the Steelers will likely stay in-house with Fitzgerald Toussaint if Williams can't go.

“Fitz has been here,” Ben Roethlisberger said. “Last year, Tate comes in here kind of the last minute thing and we were unprepared in that sense. If DeAngelo can't go, we are a little better off because Fitz has been here for a little while.”

Toussaint was added the practice squad in early September after the Ravens released him. Toussaint worked his way onto the active roster in late November and has dressed for the past six games.

Williams has 11 touchdowns and 907 yards rushing in replacing the injured Bell. Toussaint carried 12 times for 24 yards against the Browns and would likely share the backfield with Jordan Todman if Williams is out.

Darrius Heyward-Bey spent four years in Oakland where he never got an opportunity to play in a playoff game. Saturday's game against the Bengals will be the third consecutive postseason game for the Heyward-Bey — two with the Steelers and one with the Colts. “To go three years in a row and especially with this team, this organization is a blessing,” Heyward-Bey said.

• The Steelers are one of the worst teams in the NFL in passing yards allowed, but they have come up with a number of big plays, which has led them to allowing the 11th most points. “A lot of people talk about the yards we give up in the secondary, but usually when that happens we get red-zone stops or turnovers,” safety Will Allen said. “Our formula for winning has been getting turnover and sacks.” The Steelers also have five red-zone interceptions this year.

• Heyward-Bey doesn't expect the Bengals to change anything defensively even though the Steelers threw for 282 yards against them. “The Cincinnati Bengals are a zone team and that's what we are expecting.”

— Mark Kaboly

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