Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor will miss Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals and their big, tall, fast and strong wide receiver A.J. Green.
But the good news for the Steelers is their Nos. 2 and 3 cornerbacks are expected to return from injuries and play.
“It is progressing rather well,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of the hairline fracture in Taylor’s ankle.
But Tomlin firmly ruled Taylor out for a third straight game and opened the door for Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen to defend one of the league’s premier wide receivers.
“He plays to his size down the field,” Tomlin said of the 6-4 Green. “Plays the ball above our level.”
That would’ve been disastrous against the short corners Tomlin used last Sunday to replace Lewis and Allen. But Lewis apparently has recovered from the aggravated hip flexor that knocked him out in the middle of the fourth quarter in Dallas. Allen didn’t play in Dallas because of a groin injury.
Green leads the AFC with 11 touchdown catches and is fourth in the conference in both receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,208).
RIDING WITH THE KING
The Steelers placed reserve cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke on injured reserve with a dislocated shoulder and signed former Penn State and Gateway High cornerback Justin King (6-0, 186), a fourth-year vet who was drafted in the fourth round in 2008 by the St. Louis Rams and made 19 starts in 35 games played.
This season, King spent five weeks with the Indianapolis Colts before being waived.
King ran the 40 in 4.31 at the 2008 Combine.
“We worked him out a couple of weeks ago,” Tomlin said. “He should be a quick study and a guy who fits in quickly around here. … Maybe he’s able to help us in this football game.”
After losing to the Cowboys in overtime, Ben Roethlisberger made several references to the playcalling that were construed as criticisms by fans and media.
Tomlin talked to Roethlisberger at their weekly Monday meeting and told reporters Tuesday, “That was a tough, hard-fought football game, an emotional one. And when you come up short, there are natural frustrations associated with that. I’m sure if anything was read into his comments, it was just that.”
Tomlin was asked if Roethlisberger is “on the same page” with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“Yes he is,” Tomlin said, adding later: “He’s ready to move forward with this week and he’s on board with what it is we’re doing.”
MENDENHALL, ADAMS RETURN
Running back Rashard Mendenhall and right tackle Mike Adams will return to the practice field this week, but it doesn’t appear that either will jump back into the starting lineup.
Mendenhall was suspended a game for failing to show up at Heinz Field after he was deactivated for the Chargers game.
Tomlin was asked if he’s going to stick with the backfield rotation that’s averaged 78 yards per game (3.9 per carry) since his former starter’s benching after the Cleveland game.
“I’m happy with the rotation as it is now,” Tomlin said. “I look forward to getting Rashard back in the building … participating with his teammates, and kind of letting that participation lead us in terms of etching out a potential role for him.”
Adams, the second-round draft pick who replaced injured Marcus Gilbert as the starting right tackle in Games 6-10, has recovered from his ankle sprain, but another rookie, seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum, will apparently remain the starter.
That’s the direction Tomliin appeared to lean when asked how rookies Beachum and David DeCastro faired on the right side together against the Cowboys.
“Very few, if any, mental errors,” Tomlin said, “not only from David but from Beachum. That’s arrow pointed up on those two. We’re really excited about their contributions. … They’ve got a ridiculous challenge this week in Geno Atkins and [Carlos] Dunlap. The jury’s still out on that group.”