By Teresa Varley
The Steelers will be without defensive end Brett Keisel on Sunday against the Patriots. Keisel suffered an MCL sprain against the Cincinnati Bengals and is out for this week and likely the next two games.
Keisel missed the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Jacksonville games earlier in the season with a calf injury. Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason will both see playing time with Keisel out of the lineup as well as Orpheus Roye.
"Those guys have proven to us so far this year that they are capable of holding the standard," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "Travis has been great when called upon. Nick Eason and Orpheus Roye as well. It will be business as usual in regards to those situations and we expect those guys to play winning football for us."
Running back Willie Parker is questionable after he had knee inflammation following the Bengals game. If Parker can't play, Mewelde Moore will be the starter with Gary Russell and Carey Davis carrying part of the load as well.
"We have done that when he hasn't gone here in recent months," said Tomlin. "At this point that will be the plan."
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who suffered a concussion against the Bengals, is expected to play against New England.
"All indications are that he is going to be fine and be able to play," said Tomlin. "Of course, like we always do under these circumstances, we will continue to test him throughout the week but I expect him to be fine."
Cornerback Bryant McFadden, who returned to practice last week, is questionable but Tomlin is hopeful that he will play. Fellow corner Deshea Townsend is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Offensive tackle Marvel Smith remains status quo with back spasms. Smith has missed the last six games.