Mike Tomlin and his infamous filibuster approach to media relations took the stand this afternoon, and addressed the health of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they attempt to limp their way into the the postseason.
The Steelers secondary, who for a time this season ranked as the best against the pass, has had its ranks destroyed by unexpected injuries. Ike Taylor, who fractured his ankle against the Baltimore Ravens in week 13, has been given permission to start working outside his protective boot. While Tomlin expressed his optimism about Taylor's recovery, he has been ruled out for the next game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
As the remainder of the secondary attempted to cope without Taylor, other members suffered injuries of their own. Cortez Allen who suffered a hip flexor and a groin injury in week 14 against the San Diego Chargers forcing him to miss the recent loss to the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to return to practice this week.
Keenan Lewis started the game against the Cowboys, but failed to finish as a hip flexor hindered his ability to participate. Lewis suffered a similar, possibly the same, injury the week before against the Chargers, but he is also expected to practice this week. Both Lewis and Allen will be limited early in the week, but are both expected to participate on Sunday, barring any further setbacks.
This comes as good news for the remaining healthy members of the secondary. DeMarcus Van Dyke suffered a dislocated shoulder, and has been placed on injured reserve. To compensate for his loss, the Steelers signed former St. Louis Ram and Indianapolis Colts defensive back, Justin King. King was invited for a workout at the same time Stanford Routt was reported to have a similar appointment. Tomlin spoke highly of King's combination of youth and experience, and that King as already in the building and getting himself up to speed.
King will be supporting Josh Victorian, Curtis Brown, and Robert Golden as the Steelers observe the progress of Lewis and Allen throughout the week.
The offense got some reassuring news as Emmanuel Sanders, who suffered a rib injury against the Cowboys, is expected to play though he will be limited in practice the early portion of the week.
While the secondary has been a major focus as the Steelers struggles, the major concern on the offensive side of the ball was not addressed at all. Tomlin spoke highly of David DeCastro and Kelvin Beachum, as the two rookie linemen played with "very few mental errors", but made no mention to the status of either Willie Colon, or Mike Adams, outside of saying that Adams would be monitored leaving his chances of playing up in the air. Failing to give timelines for either as the Steelers continue to struggle to run the ball tends to whisper that neither will be available this week, but the return of Rashard Mendenhall screams that a roster move is imminent.
With Van Dyke already being placed on injured reserve to make room for King, either Colon or Adams will suffer the same fate to make room for Mendenhall, whose roster exemption due to suspension expires today at 4 p.m. ET. If neither player is IR'ed, then the Steelers will have to cut a healthy player to compensate for the return of the beleaguered ball carrier.