By Teresa Varley
To play or not to play, that is the question that is swirling through safety Ryan Clark's mind this week as the team prepares to take on the Broncos in Denver.
Clark has the sickle cell trait and when he played in Denver in 2007 his blood reacted poorly to the Denver air, resulting in an illness that eventually forced him into surgery to have his spleen and gall bladder removed.
But he has been given medical clearance to play on Monday night. It's just a matter of what to do.
"It's still a tough decision," said Clark. "Competitively in this game everybody has a little bit of ego. I want to go back and play there. Not for the sake of really beating the Broncos, but in the end God gets the glory that I am able to come full circle and I am able to go there and play.
"The doctors cleared me. It's still a decision between my family and I. I think the part that makes it bad by not having a decision made is the practice time. That is the unfair thing. It's a tough decision."
Clark has been back to Denver since the incident and would still make the trip with the team even if he doesn't play.
"I want to play, I have been cleared to play," said Clark. "It's just a tough decision. It's tough to go home and tell your wife who has been worried about you for a year that you are going and it's tough for me to tell the guys I don't want to play, even though I have been cleared. It's a decision I am going to make along with my family and Coach (Mike) Tomlin. He is going to have the final say of whether he lets me go or not."
Defensive end Travis Kirschke could be forced to sit out on Monday night with a calf injury, one he classified as a tear, and if that is the case look for Nick Eason to get more snaps against the Broncos.
"I'll just prepare myself like I have done every week," said Eason. "Get the extra conditioning, stay in the playbook and play in the frame work of the defense. We are going out to a very hostile atmosphere in Denver. They have played good football on offense and defense and it will be a challenge for us."
The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season last week, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, and now everyone is asking if the Steelers will try to do the same thing the Ravens did to stymie the Broncos.
The answer is, not likely.
"We are our own team," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "You look at things they did and you want to see some of the things and how they beat them. We can't put in Baltimore's offense and go play. We just have to play our own game and hope for the best."
Monday Night Football is always fun for players, especially when you are the home team and you have the crowd behind you. But it can be a challenge when you go on the road and the Steelers are ready for it.
"It's great. It's us against the world out there," said nose tackle Chris Hoke. "They are coming off a loss, having a good year and they want to get back on track. I think we thrive on those situations, going on the road and playing in a hostile environment."