The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a gigantic come-from-behind win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16. The win sealed an AFC North championship, and gave the team some flexibility with how they handle their roster heading into the Week 17 game vs. the Browns in Cleveland.
During Mike Tomlin’s weekly press conference Tuesday, he addressed the possibility of resting players, but only specified one player. After Tomlin announced Mason Rudolph will get the start for Ben Roethlisberger, he left the door open for some other players to get the day off as well.
However, a lot of factors came into play with others getting the week of, and no factor was larger than injuries at that specific position. For instance, if the Steelers wanted to give David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey the week off, how would they make this happen with J.C. Hassenauer as the only real back up at both the center and guard positions? This a day after the Jacksonville Jaguars picked up Derwin Gray off waivers.
In other words, they wouldn’t likely be able to just tell both DeCastro and Pouncey they won’t be playing this week.
The same can be said at the inside linebacker position. You could never consider giving Vince Williams the week off when Marcus Allen is rehabbing a shoulder injury while Robert Spillane and Ulysees Gilbert III are both still on the Reserve/Injured List.
And this is what the decision Tomlin, and his staff, face as they prepare for the regular season finale. Who plays, and if they play, how much will they play? During Tomlin’s press conference he continued to stress the availability of players like Allen can dictate how much, or if, others will be given a chance to rest.
Outside of Allen, Ola Adeniyi (shoulder) and Chris Boswell (hip) continue to work their way back to help the team. Tomlin also specified how Robert Spillane is someone who could be taken off Injured Reserve (IR) depending on how his rehabilitation is going. While it might not happen this week, Tomlin sounded confident he could return to the team by the postseason.
As for Boswell, Tomlin stated the injury to his leg is not the same injury as the groin strain which kept him out of the team’s first loss vs. the Washington Football Team. While appreciative of Matthew Wright’s work, Tomlin is looking forward to seeing Boswell return to practice this week to see if he will be a part of the team’s plan heading into Week 17 vs. the Browns.
There are a number of players the team could consider resting, but depth is the key. Could they rest Minkah Fitzpatrick? Absolutely considering they have Jordan Dangerfield and Sean Davis to fill in. Could they rest Stephon Tuitt or Cam Heyward? With Isaiah Buggs being a healthy scratch and the team already deploying Chris Wormley, Henry Mondeaux and Carlos Davis last week, you would think they could. Will they rest T.J. Watt? It is a possibility, especially if Ola Adeniyi returns to the team to go with Cassius Marsh and Jayrone Elliott as the other pass rushers available.
It is a fluid situation, and one fans should keep an eye on. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Browns in the regular season finale in Week 17.
To hear more from the Mike Tomlin press conference, check the weekly Press Conference Recap Podcast below: