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Tomlin: Starting lineup changes possible for Steelers

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By Scott Brown
Monday, Dec. 7, 2009
 

Major changes could be coming to the Steelers as they try to snap a four-game losing streak and salvage their season.

Coach Mike Tomlin said today he will evaluate all aspects of his team and strongly hinted that changes will be made to the starting lineup and particularly at cornerback.

"We can't stay status quo in terms of how we're approaching this thing and expect the pattern of behavior and outcomes to change," Tomlin said today at his weekly news conference. "That's unrealistic, that's hoping. I'm not a hope-mentality person."

Asked how changes would go over on a veteran-laden team, Tomlin said, "I think they understand it and I think to a degree they'll agree with me."

The 6-6 Steelers will likely be without veteran wide receiver Hines Ward Thursday night in Cleveland.

Ward sustained a mild hamstring strain near the end of the Steelers' 27-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders, and the injury will probably sideline him because of the short week.

"He's going to be very questionable for this game," Tomlin said.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee) has been all but ruled out for Thursday's game though Tomlin said he expects defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf) to return to action.

Cornerback William Gay will take a battery of neurological tests this week after sustaining a concussion against the Raiders. Tomlin has not ruled him out of the Browns game.

Even if Gay is able to play in Cleveland, he may not start.

Tomlin said rookie cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis will be given long looks as the Steelers try to shore up their shaky secondary. Tomlin acknowledged that even veteran cornerback Ike Taylor's job isn't safe as he ponders significant changes.

"I don't like where we are," Tomlin said. "Obviously we are a very average football team as we sit here today."

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