The Steelers are looking to get back into the win column this week in a key AFC North match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This will be the Steelers first divisional game of the season, while the Bengals are 1-2 in the division coming off a loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“This is a big game for us and for them,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s our first venture into division play. We all know the importance of division play, particularly when you’ve had the kind of start we’ve had. I would imagine they can say similar things. It’s going to be a big game for all parties involved. It should make it entertaining for our fans.”
One of the main weapons the Steelers defense will have to contend with this week is the Bengals number one draft pick from last year, wide receiver A.J. Green who has 43 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns through six games.
“You don’t get taken that high in the draft unless you have a unique physical skill set,” said Tomlin. “But looking at his body of work since he’s been in Cincinnati, he’s got some intangible things to go along with that that allow him to produce and produce at a high level in the manner in which he has. We respect him, we respect what he’s capable of, and obviously, in terms of slowing them down, he’s a big component of that for us as we build a plan.”
Green isn’t the only weapon, though, that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has to work with, including running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, receiver Andrew Hawkins and tight end Jermaine Gresham just to name a few.
“By no means is he a one man gang,” said Tomlin of Green. “Jermaine Gresham, their tight end, is really doing some nice things. I really like what Coach (Jay) Gruden is doing with him schematically. They are putting him in some situations and displacing him from the core and getting him in matchups with linebackers and safety-types. He has a unique skill set. He is like an enormous wide receiver. He has good body control and runs great routes. He is a vertical threat.”
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After in-game injuries against the Titans had the offensive line down to only five healthy bodies, there is a chance this week that the Steelers could dress eight instead of the normal seven linemen for the Bengals game.
“Absolutely it’s a possibility and it’s a real possibility considering the circumstances,” said Tomlin. “Obviously, with Marcus (Gilbert) being down and let’s say Maurkice Pouncey makes it, obviously you’d want to fortify yourself in that situation. I think eight linemen is a serious discussion that’s going to take place given the circumstance, not only the recent history in terms of what’s transpired with the group, but also the very present in terms of some of the men that will be playing, obviously, who will be dealing with things as we approach the game.”
Tomlin was also asked if there would be a roster move this week because of the injuries on the offensive line, and he acknowledged that there were players at the team’s facility on Tuesday that they were taking a look at, including Jacques McClendon who was signed to the practice squad. But Tomlin said it will be players already on the team they will be leaning on.
“Those that are going to help us win the football game this weekend are in our building and have been in our building,” said Tomlin.
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Guard David DeCastro, who is on injured reserve/designated for return, is slowly making progress but there is no timetable right now for the rookie’s return to action.
“He ran yesterday in a straight line,” said Tomlin. “It’s part of the rehabilitation. I thought it was positive and I think how he responds to those workouts, of course, is going to be a critical component.
“But, there is a certain period of time that he has to go through before he’s even eligible to come back. So, we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing his status or his progress. I just happened to look over there and see him running.”
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