Free safety Ryan Clark has expressed defiance, outrage and sheer anger at how the Steelers have been impacted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on illegal hits.
The outspoken free safety took a different stance one day after the league suspended outside linebacker James Harrison for an important game in San Francisco.
"We want to try to figure out a way to be as physical as possible and to be as legal as possible," said Clark, the Steelers' union representative. "On the other (side) of that, when things don't go our way we need to shut up because obviously being who we are isn't working. Being outspoken about things and expressing our frustration in different manners than other people, that's not working for us.
"We're not going to call the commissioner, we're not going to set up meetings -- that's just not the players that we are. But I think as a team we need to stop talking about it."
Harrison, who was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, is appealing his punishment. The four-time Pro Bowler is not expected to get it overturned — his official hearing was yesterday — and the Steelers are preparing for their Monday night game against the 49ers as if they won't have Harrison.
Jason Worilds, who has been starting at left outside linebacker in place of the injured LaMarr Woodley, is expected to play in place of Harrison at right inside linebacker. Woodley, who hasn't played a full game since hurting his hamstring Oct. 30, practiced Wednesday, which puts him on track to play in San Francisco.
Woodley and Harrison haven't played an entire game together since the third week of the season.
Harrison had steered clear of any league discipline this season. But the league suspended him Tuesday for his fifth illegal hit on a quarterback, dating to 2009, and his status as a repeat offender.
Harrison's teammates generally chose their words carefully when talking about how his latest run-in with the league will affect the Steelers.
Cornerback Ike Taylor was one of the few who didn't hide his frustration over policies that many defensive players see as putting them at a competitive disadvantage or taking the essence out of football.
"I'll hit low instead of doing concussions, blow ACLs (knees) out, then what?" Taylor said. "Man, we have no control. Whatever decision they make, we just run with it whether we like it or not."
Steelers inside linebacker and defensive captain James Farrior agreed.
"When you get kicked out of the game or suspended that's hurting the team. We've got to be thinking about doing whatever we need to do not to hurt the team," Farrior said. "You want to play within the guidelines of the game and the rules, but you've got to still play football."
Clark said he is frustrated for Harrison on a personal level as well as a professional one.
Harrison isn't allowed in the Steelers' facility until Tuesday, and he has to watch his team try to win a game it badly needs as it chases a fourth AFC North title in five years.
"You just hate to see a teammate, you hate to see a friend be kind of ostracized, ridiculed when he's actually been working to do better," Clark said. "I couldn't imagine having to deal with what he's had to deal with the past two years. I know he's worked extremely hard to stay within the guidelines and it's his first offense this year, so that part frustrates me."