As the Pittsburgh Steelers put the final touches on their game plans for their final road trip of the 2014 season, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is preparing to be without the services of veterans Ike Taylor and James Harrison.
"It will be beneficial to us (to have Harrison and Taylor)," LeBeau told Ralph Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We're prepared to play without them, really. If they play, it's a bonus."
Taylor has missed a tremendous amount of time this season due to a broken forearm suffered in the Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers. Upon his return, his play has been less than stellar.
In last week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Taylor was abused by A.J. Green and, by game's end, was watching from the sidelines as Antwon Blake filled his role on the defense. After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin stated Taylor suffered an injury which prevented him from playing at his normal level, and that injury has kept him from practicing this week.
As for Harrison, a knee injury suffered in the home loss to the New Orleans Saints kept him out of the lineup against the Bengals, and looks to keep him out this Sunday as well. Although Jarvis Jones' return to the team from the injured-reserve list certainly softens the blow of not having Harrison in the lineup, there's only one James Harrison.
Harrison might not have been making the splash plays Steelers fans are accustomed to seeing him make, but his run-stopping was a huge benefit to a defense which has struggled to stop the run at times in 2014.
Although the two veteran players haven't been officially ruled out of the game on Sunday, all signs point to them not being available. LeBeau's comments merely emphasize that point.
The pressure now falls on Blake, Brice McCain, Jones and Arthur Moats to carry this team on the road one last time before finishing the 2014 season with back-to-back home games at Heinz Field.