READY FOR ANYTHING: Will it get nasty in Cincinnati?
"Of course," Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell predicted.
The presence of Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and the acrimonious history the Steelers and Bengals share, especially dating back to the conclusion of the Steelers' playoff victory last January at Paul Brown Stadium, suggests anything's possible.
Burfict missed the first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 18 due to a suspension.
"He's a good player," Bell said. "It's going to be fun to go against him. As an offense, we understand we can't get into any battles outside of football with him. We're going to play football and do what we have to do.
"For me, it's not going to be a challenge at all. I'm going to go out there and beat them with my football play. I'm not going to really get into all the trash talking and all the dirty play that they want to do. I'm going to go out there and play football."
Bell had his 2015 season ended on a hit by Burfict and his 2014 campaign brought to a close on a hit by then-Bengals safety Reggie Nelson.
"I'm not necessarily worried about trying to be dirty or do anything to try to hurt those guys," Bell said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to try to do whatever they gotta do to try to get me off the field. It is what it us, I understand it.
"I'm obviously not going to let it happen a third time. I'm going to be prepared for everything. That has to be my mindset. I have to be smart about it."
Guard Ramon Foster anticipates the playing of football, not the staging of a brawl or an exchanging of cheap shots.
"Last game went clean and smooth," he said. "We're just going to play ball. We can't make that an issue.
"I don't think they will. They have a respectable organization, let's just play football. They haven't said much, we're not saying anything about it, everybody just has to play ball. I'm not looking for another fine, I'll tell you that much.
"So many cameras are going to be on that game. They flexed it to a 1 p.m. game but there are going to be a lot of New York eyes (at NFL headquarters) on that game. Nobody can afford to be missing a game this late in the season or trying to take away from their Christmas funds."
The Steelers prepare for the Week 15 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
STILL INVOLVED:** Defensive end Stephon Tuitt credited the strong performance of the defensive line in last Sunday's 27-20 win at Buffalo in part to injured defensive end Cameron Heyward's presence on and contributions from the sideline.
"Cam is a motivator," Tuitt insisted. "Just because he's not playing doesn't mean he's not part of us. A guy like that could be staying at home right now but he's with us, traveling in the cold. He means a lot to our team. He helps us, motivates us and, especially when we get back to the sideline, tells us some things that we need to see."
The Steelers limited the Bills' No. 1 rushing attack to 67 yards.
Tuitt was asked if that performance suggested the Steelers would be capable of stopping any rushing attack.
"That's been my goal ever since Day One," he said. "That's how I think defensively. But we don't need to get ahead of ourselves. We have to continue to work. We have to continue to get better."
VISUAL PROOF: Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier has had a good view of the defensive line's response to Heyward being placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Nov. 19.
"You know every time your brother's down you always want to fight a little bit harder," Shazier said. "They're closer to him than anybody else on the team. They're in the room with him every day. A lot of them hang out with each other when they're not here at the facility.
"They spend time with each other and they understand how he feels, because he's still around. You can definitely see they're trying to fight harder for him."