The Steelers’ Iron Man, the guy who said of injured players last training camp, “if it’s not life-threatening, we’d like for everyone to be out there,” will not be out there Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Ike Taylor suffered a right ankle fracture and “will be out at least a couple weeks,” according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
So it appears Taylor’s 135-game streak will come to an end, and with it the NFL’s longest such streak for a cornerback.
The good news for the Steelers is that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger impressed Tomlin with his throwing on Monday and has a chance to start Sunday’s game against the visiting Chargers.
“Ben is getting closer to health,” Tomlin said. “He threw (Monday) and I guess it could be described as successfully. We’ll see what it looks like on a football field (Wednesday). He’ll be given an opportunity to prove he is healthy. We’ll let that progress go from there. Meanwhile, Charlie is our guy.”
Charlie Batch and Brian Hoyer are the two known healthy Steelers quarterbacks, and Tomlin said he’ll give Roethlisberger some of Hoyer’s reps on Wednesday.
“(Wednesday) will provide some clarity for us,” Tomlin said. “We’ll be able to make firm decisions.”
The “firm decisions” that were made Sunday at cornerback to replace Taylor – who was injured breaking up Joe Flacco’s deep pass on the second play of the game – were deemed successful by Tomlin at Tuesday’s press conference.
While Cortez Allen incurred a questionable 30-yard pass interference penalty that set up a field goal, and was beat for a 28-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on the next series, the second-year cornerback played well as Taylor’s replacement. He was credited with 3 passes defensed, while Allen’s replacement as the nickel back, Curtis Brown, broke up another pass.
“Both guys did a really nice job,” Tomlin said. “They proved it wasn’t too big for them. Obviously, Cortez has played a lot of defensive football for us here over the course of the season, so I was not surprised by his performance. But I was pleased with the defensive contributions of Curtis Brown. He has proven to be a very stable and reliable special teams player, but it was good to see him get a substantial amount of defensive work and stand and deliver.”
It’s been reported the Steelers have scheduled a workout with street free agent Stanford Routt, but Tomlin indicated the team is merely firming up its replacement list in case of another injury.
As for the remainder of the players who missed the win over the Ravens, right tackle Mike Adams will remain out with a high ankle sprain, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is questionable – or “definitely potentially in play,” as Tomlin put it – with his ankle injury, and left guard Willie Colon (knee) is expected to play Sunday.
FB Will Johnson (concussion), WR Emmanuel Sanders (A-C shoulder joint), WR Mike Wallace (inflammation of right knee), and FS Ryan Clark (hip contusion) are also expected to play Sunday.
Tomlin added that he was pleased with the progress made by SS Troy Polamalu (calf) and WR Antonio Brown (ankle) in their first games back from extended absences.
“I thought Troy’s return was a positive thing,” Tomlin said. “There were no steps backward. We expect that to continue.”
Tomlin called Brown’s return Sunday in Baltimore “a good start for him but he’s still working his way back to complete health.”
NOTES – Tomlin was asked about the handshake over which Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed displeasure, and said he saw his players entering the locker room and wanted to hurry to greet them at the doorway, as has become his custom. ... Former first-round pick and starting running back Rashard Mendenhall will likely remain inactive Sunday, Tomlin explained, because he doesn’t play special teams and the team is short numbers at offensive line and wide receiver.