The Steelers will be concluding their 2012 regular season this Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns. And unfortunately, because of a stretch of five losses in six games, it will be a contest without playoff implications--the first such game in the Mike Tomlin era.
With nothing but pride to play for, naturally, this veteran-laden team may look to err on the side of caution with the entire offseason ahead to rest, heal and prepare for a return to the postseason in 2013.
That being the case, Mike Tomlin's Week 17 injury report is a bit peculiar.
--Casey Hampton was one of the many attendees at the team's Christmas party earlier in the week, and while waiting in line to eat the holiday feast that was being served, he was talking to a reporter about the disappointing conclusion to the 2012 season. In regards to missing the postseason, Hampton said, "It aint not big thing, man. We can't make the playoffs every year. Maybe I AM a little depressed over it, but you know what? I have the other 52 guys on this team to turn to when I'm feeling low. They're my friends. You know who else is my friend? This sweet potato pie........and this turkey and ham.......the gravy and I are pretty close, too................I'm pretty tight with this cornbread and these chocolate chip cookies. I'm fine, man. I don't need the playoffs. I have all the comfort I need. Now leave me alone!"
Needless to say, Hampton is now questionable with a stomach.
At practice on Wednesday, Tomlin reinforced his earlier creed that his guys were going to finish this thing out like men and play hard against Cleveland even with nothing at stake but pride.
I don't know if he was feeling sympathy pains, but fellow receiver Antonio Brown collapsed to the ground, too, and screamed, "My calf! It must be contagious!"
--John Norwig also fell to the ground while clutching his calf, which was weird because he's the team trainer......maybe people are right about the conditioning of the team. Even the conditioner is hurt.
All three are listed as day-to-day.
--After being informed that he could play against the Browns this week after losing to them in that eight turnover fiasco in Week 12, Charlie Batch, at 38, the oldest non-kicker in the NFL, grabbed his chest, stumbled backward and screamed, "This is the big one, Elizabeth! I'm comin' to join you, honey.....with a 7-8 record and third place behind the Bungals!" Batch's wife isn't named Elizabeth and she's still with us, so it's unclear who this "Elizabeth" was that Charlie was talking to.
Don't expect to see Batch in the game on Sunday. Not after that eight turnover game in Cleveland.....I mean, that fairy tale ending against the Ravens......I mean, after such scary chest pains at his age.
--Ryan Clark was jogging in the rarefied air of Mt. Washington earlier in the week (not the mountain, the one in Pittsburgh), and just like when he tried to play in Denver a number of years ago, the neighborhood's higher than usual elevation (Grandview Ave. is 447 feet above sea-level and the best place in Pittsburgh to watch fireworks) didn't agree with his rare health condition, and he said he may have to sit out Sunday's game as a precaution.
--Rashard Mendenhall, who was the subject of controversy recently for not showing up to the Chargers game a few weeks ago, was apparently quoted as saying, "If a game has no playoff implications, does it really count and do I really have to show up? Is the game even real? Are any of us really here or are we just in someone else's dream?"
Mendenhall is questionable for Sunday........very, very questionable.
--Ben Roethlisberger was also at the team Christmas party this week, and he brought the family along. However, there may be trouble in paradise. About this Sunday's game, Mrs. Roethlisberger said, "The game is meaningless, right? I mean, you're not going to play, are you? Your son has been asking where his father's been his whole life."
"What do you mean?" said Big Ben. "He's only like a month old. He can't even talk yet."
That's when it really hit the fan.
"You know what, Ben? I'm not just a mother, I'm a woman. I've been cooped up in our house for the past month raising OUR son while you're out there trying to be the hero and getting all the glory. You say you want another ring. You want to get a ring for guys like Pouncey and Wallace. You know what I want? I want a decent night's sleep, Ben. That's what I want. I want my identity back. You always have nights out with the guys for "bonding." You know how long it's been since I had a girls night out? My father was right about you! You really are less talented than Tony Romo! You're not playing, and I'll tell Tomlin myself!"
Anyway, looks like Roethlisberger's sprained SC joint is acting up again and time at home with his son may be his ONLY option this Sunday.