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Brown's status for playoff game remains iffy for Steelers

| Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Antonio Brown, shown getting hit by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during last season’s playoff game, compared playing in the NFL to being “like a NASCAR driver.”
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Antonio Brown, shown getting hit by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during last season’s playoff game, compared playing in the NFL to being “like a NASCAR driver.”

Mike Tomlin lives by the next-man-up motto.

That's good because it might be pushed to the ultimate test during Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game against the Broncos.

Not only is Ben Roethlisberger's availability questionable — he said he has a sprained AC joint — but the status of top receiver Antonio Brown (concussion) and running back DeAngelo Williams (foot) are up in the air.

Brown is in the NFL's concussion protocol after getting hit in the head by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during the final minute of the wild-card win over the Bengals.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had no update on Brown's status other than to confirm he is still in the concussion protocol.

“We are going to adhere to it and follow it to the letter,” Tomlin said. “He is going to participate fully in it. We will see where it leads us. Obviously, we are hopeful, but we are always hopeful. We are going to do what is right when it's said and done.”

Players were off Tuesday, and the Steelers will hold their first practice of the week Wednesday.

Brown has been a critical part of the Steelers' offense this year with an AFC-best 136 receptions, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns.

In the Steelers' regular-season meeting against the Broncos, Brown caught 16 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-27 win.

“As I sit here, the thought of working without A.B. is not a pleasant one, but we'll see where it takes us,” Tomlin said.

Williams' status isn't as promising.

Williams suffered a foot injury in the first half of the Week 17 game against the Browns and missed last week's playoff game. Williams reportedly traveled to Charlotte, N.C., on Monday to see noted foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.

“DeAngelo is still kind of on the outside looking in,” Tomlin said. “I will leave the door ajar for him. He is a savvy veteran player. If he perks up at the end of the week, I have no issue in terms of giving him an opportunity to assist us in our efforts. As we sit here today, it's just that. I am leaving the door ajar for him. We will see where the week of rehabilitation and so forth takes us with him.”

If Williams can't play, the Steelers will use the combination of Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman again.

Toussaint rushed 17 times for 58 yards and was a big part of the passing game, catching four passes for 60 yards on eight targets against the Bengals.

Todman carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards, including a run of 25.

“Their contributions under those circumstances were impressive, a circumstance that neither man had been in before,” Tomlin said. “We don't take that for granted.

“We are appreciating their growth and development in that area and their ability to deliver. They may have to do it again this week.”

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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