ShareThis Page

Steelers notebook: With Brown out, Miller says everyone must pick up slack

| Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 9:45 p.m.

The Steelers may be forced to alter their game plan offensively with wide receiver Antonio Brown sidelined with a concussion.

And part of that game plan, tight end Heath Miller said, is spreading the ball around to a versatile group of receivers.

“Certainly, Antonio can score touchdowns from anywhere on the field,” Miller said.

“Obviously, you're missing a lot when he's out there. But we have to pick up the slack because we have playmakers in this locker room.”

Running back Will Johnson could see time at tight end, particularly if Jesse James doesn't recover from an illness.

The Broncos, who sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three times in the teams' regular-season meeting, will try to get the Steelers to beat them with a short game.

“I see the short game being a bigger part of the game plan, especially with (James),” said Johnson, who is listed questionable with a hamstring injury. “He's good in blocking, and he's a passing threat.

“They have a great pass rush, but we have to be a security blanket in the pass game.”

The Steelers are hoping Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint can be effective exploiting the Denver secondary.

Toussaint had four catches for 60 yards in the Steelers' 18-16 wild-card win at Cincinnati.

Wheaton has no doubt

Wide receiver Markus Wheaton isn't overly concerned about the Steelers heading into Sunday's divisional round matchup with the Broncos. And he doesn't expect the Steelers offense to deviate from what has worked this season.

“It'll be the same stuff because we're confident in what we have even if Ben sits out,” Wheaton said. “We're trying to win the game, and that's all I'm thinking about it. It's all everyone is thinking about.

“It could be a breakout game for everybody — for Todman, for Fitz (Toussaint), for Sammie Coates. Anybody can be the guy. Anybody can explode at any time.”

Broncos' safety valves

Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was feeling good about his top-ranked secondary before Brown was ruled out, in part, because safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart will be in the starting lineup.

They didn't play against the Steelers in Week 15, a game in which Denver blew a 14-point lead and surrendered a season-high 354 passing yards.

“They're two really good football players,” Phillips said. “They're two of our best players. I think if T.J. wasn't hurt this year, he's an all-star player. He's a Pro Bowl player. He's a heat-seeking missile, I call him. That guy is a tremendous player. Then Stewart has come in, played really well for us and been kind of our quarterback back there. ... We didn't tackle well last game. You're getting two of your best tacklers back.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.