Some of those decisions are a “good problem to have,” as several key players are returning from injury, including inside linebacker Robert Spillane and offensive guard Matt Feiler. Another decision concerns the prospect of dressing three quarterbacks, prompted by Pittsburgh’s utilization of third-string QB Josh Dobbs in the season finale against the Browns. Yet another concerns placekicker Chris Boswell, who has a lingering groin injury that could make him a game-time decision on Sunday night.
Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright?
The latter decision is perhaps the most straightforward of the above, at least from Tomlin’s perspective. This weekend Bob Labriola of Steelers.com asked Tomlin whether having two placekickers active is a possibility for Sunday night.
“No, the helmets are too precious,” said Tomlin. “If Chris Boswell is healthy enough to play, he plays. If he’s not healthy enough to play, then Matt [Wright] plays, and it’s as simple as that.”
Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs?
As for the possibility of dressing three quarterbacks for Sunday night’s game, Tomlin made it sound like that’s not in the cards—at least not this week.
“… There are some tough decisions you have to make in terms of allocation of helmets, and it goes beyond offense and defense. And really, a lot of the decisions that are made on the fortification of special teams,” he advised, noting the special teamers can have as much or more of an impact on the game as a third quarterback “who might get used three or four times.”
Meanwhile, Tomlin has some other difficult determinations in terms of who gets a helmet against the Browns, thanks to the return of players like Spillane and Feiler, who have been out of the lineup for four weeks and three weeks, respectively.
Pittsburgh’s Arrow Pointing Up?
It’s the return of select players from injury—and the chance for mission-critical veterans like Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey to get a week’s worth of rest—that has Tomlin optimistic about the direction the team is headed, despite having lost four of last five games in the regular season.
“I feel really good about the trajectory of our group and the fact our arrow is pointing up although our record may not reflect it,” concluded Tomlin. “There have been some significant re-acquisitions here in recent weeks in terms of the guys available to us. I’m excited about guys like Matt Feiler back in the lineup, guys like Robert Spillane back in the lineup, and that’s what makes me optimistic about the general trajectory of our group.”
Who Replaces Joe Haden at CB?
One key player who won’t be available to play against the Browns is starting cornerback Joe Haden, who remains sidelined after having reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Tomlin confirmed that fourth-year cornerback Cam Sutton will start in Haden’s place, and revealed why he believes Sutton can get the job done.
“His above-the-neck game is excellent. His attention to detail is excellent. His communication is excellent,” observed Tomlin. “All of those things are helpful in this environment. Forget the plays he makes, just functioning within the collective and bringing something other than play to the collective…. He’s going to make his necessary plays, but he’s going to bring some intangible things to the group as well that are comforting as well to those with whom he plays.”
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