Steelers OLB Woodley wants to face Browns
After sitting out the final three quarters Sunday at Heinz Field, LaMarr Woodley is hopeful he will play Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers' outside linebacker, however, said his hamstring will be an issue the rest of the season, necessitating some sort of platoon with Jason Worilds.
"You've got to be smart about the hamstring injuries and can't play the entire game anyway," Woodley said after the Steelers' 35-7 win over Cincinnati. "It's a rotation that's probably going to be going on the rest of the year."
Woodley said he and Worilds were supposed to share snaps yesterday, his first game back after missing the Steelers' previous three.
Woodley said his hamstring got "tired," and that the Steelers played it safe, especially after they started pulling away from the Bengals.
"I plan on going out there and playing again on Thursday, but you have to take the (cautious) approach," said Woodley, who leads the Steelers with nine sacks. "Fresh off these hamstring injuries, you're not going to go out there and be able to play 80 snaps. It's just not possible at this time."
A short week for the Steelers won't help Woodley, but coach Mike Tomlin said, "He might be in play" for the game.
> > Wide receiver Hines Ward and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger each achieved significant milestones. Ward, who caught five passes for 30 yards, became the 19th player in NFL history with at least 12,000 receiving yards. He joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Art Monk as the only receivers with 12,000 career receiving yards and multiple Super Bowl rings. Roethlisberger became the Steelers' all-time leader in pass completions (2,026), passing Terry Bradshaw with his final completion.
"Anytime you break a guy like that's record, it's a great thing," Roethlisberger said.
Ward needs just 10 catches to reach 1,000 for his career.
> > Right guard Ramon Foster left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return.
"We will see where he is for Thursday night," Tomlin said.
Running back Mewelde Moore (hamstring) also left and didn't return.
> > Hamstring injuries sidelined inside linebacker Larry Foote, outside linebacker Chris Carter and wide receiver Arnaz Battle. Joining those three on the Steelers' inactives list were nose tackle Chris Hoke, quarterback Dennis Dixon, offensive tackle Jamon Meredith and defensive end Al Woods.
> > The Steelers' 8:20 p.m. game Thursday night will be shown on NFL Network and locally on KDKA.
> > A.J. Green, Cincinnati's uber-talented rookie receiver, picked up where he left off against the Steelers.
Green caught only one pass in the teams' first matchup Nov. 14, but the grab was an athletic 36-yard touchdown in double coverage — one that ended with an injured knee. He was plenty healthy - and one of few bright spots — in Bengals' 35-7 loss to the Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Green, the fourth overall pick out of Georgia, had 11 catches for 87 yards — both game highs — and made an 11-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone. He was pleased to find some room against a physical secondary.
"Ike (Taylor) is one of the better press corners in the league," Green said, "so it was a challenge for me to go up there, and Troy (Polamalu) is one of the best at his position. I feel like I did a pretty good job, but I've got a lot of work to do."
Green, however, made one of the more costly errors of the afternoon in the first quarter, when he nullified an opening-drive touchdown with a false start.
> > It was a dreadful day for the Bengals' special teams, with three first-half miscues aiding the Steelers' rout. On the Bengals' opening drive, Steelers rookie Cameron Heyward blocked Mike Nugent's 33-yard field-goal attempt, which had been pushed back after a delay-of-game penalty. Later in the half, Brandon Tate fumbled on a kick return to lead to the Steelers' third touchdown, and the punt coverage team gave up a 60-yard return for a touchdown to Antonio Brown.
> > Veteran cornerback Kelly Jennings made his first start of the season in an injury-plagued secondary, replacing starter Nate Clements, who injured his hamstring late in the week.
"It felt good to be back in full-time action," Jennings said.
It wasn't all good against an athletic group of Steelers receivers. Jennings allowed Mike Wallace to get open in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter.
"I was guessing," Jennings said. "I was thinking of a different route. I tried to jump it, and (Wallace) converted to something else and got me."
> > Entering the game with the fifth-ranked run defense in the league, Cincinnati had some uncharacteristic struggles against the Steelers' attack. The Bengals gave up 136 rushing yards, well above their average of 92.7 yards per game coming into contest, and yielded a pair of touchdown runs to Rashard Mendenhall.
INSIDE THE LINES
> > The Steelers rarely laid a glove on Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton last month. In the rematch, they mixed up their blitz packages and stunts. With defensive ends Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood breaking down the Bengals' offensive line, linebacker James Harrison sometimes had a clear path to Dalton. Harrison registered all of the Steelers' three sacks.
"There were a couple of things they did, but we knew what we were going to get for the most part," Dalton said. "Obviously, there's always going to be a new wrinkle, a new thing the defense tries to do."
> > Polamalu said Friday he wasn't backing down even after suffering his second head injury of the season at Kansas City. He didn't flinch when Cedric Benson plowed through the middle on a fourth-and-1 run with 10:55 to go. Instinctively, Polamalu met Benson head on. Unlike last week when he stumbled off the field and failed to return, he walked away unscathed.
> > The Bengals stubbornly ran the football even after falling behind 21-0. They didn't panic, in part, because Dalton was constantly under pressure.
"We were getting pressure, so it's tough to pass when a quarterback is running for his life," said nose tackle Casey Hampton.
The Bengals had hoped tight end Jermaine Gresham (3 catches, 37 yards) could neutralize linebackers Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior. But Timmons and Farrior were never challenged to defend the pass, so they focused on shutting down Benson, who finished with 52 yards on 13 attempts.
"It was pretty much the same game plan as last time," Farrior said. "But we had the defensive line getting a push up front — that was the difference."
> > Roethlisberger's numbers weren't impressive (except a 117.3 passer rating), partly because the Bengals gave his receivers, especially Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, plenty of room to prevent the big play. So, Roethlisberger picked apart the Cincinnati secondary with short and intermediate throws that moved the chains. He was 3 for 3 on an 87-yard scoring drive, including a short pass that Brown turned into a 45-yard gain at the end of the first quarter to set up a 3-yard run by Mendenhall.
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