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Onward Steelers; Like It or Not, Time for Back-Ups to Step Up

Head Coach Mike Tomlin came down from on high for his weekly press conference and announced what sounded more like a list of soldiers in the infirmary rather than a list of injured football players. Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Maurkice Pouncey were called ‘questionable.’ Troy Polamalu, Marcus Gilbert and Chris Carter are each ‘out’ for Sunday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is expected to play after missing last week with a hamstring issue. Let’s not forget that Woodley missed multiple games last season with a hamstring issue and came back too soon re-aggravating the injury. Let’s hope there is not a repeat of that on Sunday.

Injuries in football are as old as the game itself and teams that have been able to step up and overcome are often the ones that raise trophies to end seasons. But how much is too much to overcome? Troy Polamalu’s absence is becoming more and more of an expectation yet, there is little depth behind him. Ryan Mundy is struggling and Will Allen is not much of an improvement. With teams obviously targeting Ike Taylor the loss of Polamalu becomes even larger due to the inability to get safety help as immediately as he could.

The offensive line has suddenly gone from highly questionable to downright scary. I thought Doug Legursky did a solid job last week essentially playing the whole game against Tennessee. He is going have to be better against a very athletic and aggressive set of defensive tackles. As much as the eyes will be on Legursky, there will also be eyes on rookie Mike Adams. This could turn out to be either a break-out performance to a long career for Adams or it could be a continuance of calls that echo ‘bust.’ Either way, it’s up to Adams who must set the edge and limit the pass rush from the Bengals defensive ends.

With Chris Carter out at linebacker, the Steelers will turn to Jason Worilds should James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley go down. Worilds is clearly better from the left side (Woodley’s) but has to be good either way.

Every team in the league is dealing with injuries this time of year and yes, maybe the Steelers are being hammered a little more than usual but no one is going to feel sorry for this team. Mike Tomlin tells us every week that ‘the standard is the standard’ and I’m going to take him at his word. Therefore, I expect this team to play well Sunday night because there are no excuses whether you’re a full-time starter or not.

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