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Steelers News: Alan Faneca and Hines Ward semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, again

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Another big year for two legends of the Black-and-gold to hopefully be enshrined at Canton, OH.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Another year, another chance for a huge group of NFL players and coaches to become enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, released their 2018 Hall of Fame Semi-Finalists, and two members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were among those awaiting the final phone call.

Those two players were Alan Faneca and Hines Ward, both of whom have reached this stage of the process once already. But the question remains whether they’ll be finalists this year with a star-studded cast of characters also awaiting the call.

Take a look at the complete list of semi-finalists below:

Mike Tomlin often said in the early stages of this season that he'd use the bye week at the halfway point of the season to “globally assess” some facets of his team.

One assessment he made is that the club needed more “splash plays.”

In other words, long scoring plays or big gains on offense, turnovers or sacks on defense and kick blocks or significant returns in the special teams game.

Let's go back to a quote from Tomlin as his team was coming out of the bye Nov. 7, before the win in Indianapolis.

“Being capable of cashing in on opportunities that are presented, that needs to define us in this second half of the season,” Tomlin said at that press conference. “We've had splash-play opportunities on offense that have been missed which could have made our journey easier. And we have had splash-play opportunities on defense that have been missed.

“Great teams seem like they have a flair for the dramatic. They make those plays when given the opportunity.”

Tomlin went on to specifically reference a Ryan Shazier interception that likely would've gone for a touchdown near the end of an eventual win in Detroit as evidence. He also pointed out a misplayed deep throw from Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant on the opening play of the loss in Chicago.

The presence of Chris Hubbard on the Steelers’ roster makes the loss of right tackle Marcus Gilbert to a four-game suspension easier to digest, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

At his weekly press conference, Tomlin said he had "no reaction" to the suspension handed down to Gilbert on Monday for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Tomlin said he prefers to make an "adjustment" in the former of Hubbard returning to a starting role.

Hubbard has started five games this season while Gilbert has spent two stints sidelined with hamstring injuries.

"Sometimes you're faced with adversity and the things that you do in terms of how you respond define you," Tomlin said. "Thankfully for us, Chris Hubbard playing is nothing new for us. He's played a lot this year. He's done an awesome job of upholding the standard.

"From that standpoint, I'm excited for him and excited to watch him meet the standard of expectation."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Steelers players weren't exactly caught off guard when right tackle Marcus Gilbert was suspended four games Monday for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment that he knew about the looming suspension for “a week or so, maybe two weeks.”

“He knew it was potentially coming,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger said players told Gilbert, who said he took an illegal substance “inadvertently,” not to appeal the suspension.

“How many times do you win appeals in the NFL?” Roethlisberger said. “You can postpone it, but how does it help us if in three weeks, they are like, ‘Nope, you have to serve your four games.' Or is it better for him to take this and get it over with now and get back for the last two regular-season games and postseason?”

Roethlisberger said Gilbert said he took the substance after he was given assurance that “100 percent no chance would it be an issue.”

“He knows that we are still responsible for what we put in our body,” Roethlisberger added. “We can't always take the word of a doctor or nutritionist.”