The big news coming out of Coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference on Tuesday was that running back Jonathan Dwyer will start on Sunday against the Ravens and while Ben Roethlisberger threw for the first time on Monday, Charlie Batch will start this week.
But that wasn’t all of the news. Tomlin discussed the roster moves the team made on Monday, which included activating guard David DeCastro from injured reserve/designated to return where he has been all season, and in turn placing tackle Marcus Gilbert on injured reserve with an ankle injury that just isn’t progressing.
“We gave (Marcus) up to six or seven weeks for that ankle to perk up,” said Tomlin. “We knew that it was a possibility that it would not. It has not. Surgery is a strong option that would require him to go on IR. That created a spot, or an opportunity.
“David DeCastro has been working here for a week in terms of practice. He’s healthy enough to proceed. We slotted him and moved him up and we’ll just continue to work him in practice and see what he’s capable of doing.”
It’s another move on an offensive line that is dealing with their share of injuries. Guard Willie Colon didn’t play against the Browns because of swelling in his knee, but is expected to be back this week. Tackle Mike Adams sprained his ankle against the Browns and will miss this week’s game. Rookie Kelvin Beachum, who stepped in last Sunday for Adams, will replace Adams in the starting lineup, but the team also has starting guard Ramon Foster available to slide over to tackle if need be.
“That is potentially an option, but based on our strengths and what we know right now, Kelvin Beachum has played and DeCastro has not, other than preseason football,” said Tomlin. “We feel that that’s the best mode at this point.
“Obviously, position flexibility has got to be an element in this thing as we push forward through the week. With Mike Adams being down, Ramon is going to have to be tackle-capable. He could be the third tackle as I sit here right now, but that’s just normal football for us. We value position flexibility. We acknowledge that guys are going to have to show multiple skills in order for us to be the type of team that we desire to be.”
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Wide receiver Plaxico Burress saw his first game action of the 2012 season against the Browns, after signing with the Steelers on Nov. 20, and Tomlin liked what he saw.
“I thought he provided a shot in the arm, particularly there at the end of the first half for us,” said Tomlin. “We targeted the red area as a place to utilize him and a place to begin teaching him what it is that we do and fitting him into what it is that we do.
“We’ll continue with that process this week and obviously there is a chance his role could expand outside of that area as well, and should.”
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While Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich both threw on Monday, newly signed back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer is still on a revved-up pace of learning the offense, and Tomlin foresees it moving in a positive direction this week.
“He’s doing a nice job of picking it up and right now I guess he could be described as an emergency guy, just not enough exposure,” said Tomlin. “Hopefully, that changes over the course of this week and I think that is a possibility.”