By Teresa Varley
The Steelers will be without cornerback Bryant McFadden against the Giants on Sunday as he is expected to miss several games after suffering a broken arm against the Bengals.
McFadden, who had surgery to insert a plate in the arm, was attempting to tackle Bengals running back Cedric Benson but instead took the brunt of the hit.
"Cedric got his shoulder square and went downhill and got him and then he got Troy (Polamalu)," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "Now you know why we are concerned about (Brandon) Jacobs this week."
McFadden had been starting at right cornerback since Deshea Townsend suffered a nagging heel injury, which hasn't fully healed yet. Townsend will start against the Giants and William Gay will play in the nickel package.
"Deshea is going to have to play more," said Tomlin. "He hasn't had to play a bunch of snaps. He has been nursing the heel contusion and has been limited in practice, and maybe he will be limited again this week in practice. He has to step up his performance.
"William Gay has to step up his performance. We have a great deal of confidence in him. He has been working extremely hard and chomping at the bit to prove he is worthy of being in the group. He is in that second year player group that we put a lot of pressure on as a football team to take that jump. Some of those other guys have had the opportunity to take those jumps, Matt Spaeth, Timmons and Woodley. He is ready to jump in that group. We feel comfortable where he is in that group."
Polamalu suffered a concussion on the same play, but his outlook is much better. He is expected to play against the Giants, but the team will closely monitor him throughout the week.
"We will simply do what the doctors tell us to do," said Tomlin. "Right now the tests are favorable. We will continue to test him the way we did Andre Frazier. Those decisions are easy because we leave them up to the professionals."
Polamalu has suffered multiple concussions starting in high school, but Tomlin doesn't think his style of play has an impact on that.
"He is not any more reckless than anybody else that plays the safety position," said Tomlin. "This is a guy that runs to the football and sometimes violent collisions happen. He has had his share of them. It's not any negligence on his part as far as technique."
A roster move to add another defensive back is a possibility, but Tomlin is comfortable going into the game with eight healthy defensive backs.
"That's enough to play with," said Tomlin. "I think more than anything right now we are concerned about practice. We'll see how that goes throughout the week. Eight defensive backs on the team or suited on game day is enough to play with."
Running back Willie Parker, along with fullback Carey Davis and nose tackle Casey Hampton, will practice on Wednesday and should play on Sunday.
"Willie continues to progress," said Tomlin. "He will practice in a limited capacity, maybe not a limited capacity tomorrow. He is slated to practice and we will continue to push him towards game day."
As long as he is healthy Parker will start against the Giants and Mewelde Moore will return to his role as the team's third down back, after filling in for Parker the last two games.
"If he is ready to play he will definitely start," said Tomlin of Parker. "We will continue to give Mewelde his looks. A lot of that will be determined on Willie's level of conditioning and the flow of the football game.
"The series will be determined by the flow of the game. If we have long sustained drives, and hopefully we do, he may be intermingled throughout a series. We'll play that by ear depending on how we move the football."
Offensive tackle Marvel Smith is progressing from back spasms and his progress will be updated later in the week. Linebacker Keyaron Fox is doubtful, still recovering from a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Dallas Baker is expected to practice on Wednesday after missing the Bengals game with a shoulder injury.
"We have a variety of bumps and bruises that go along with playing football," said Tomlin. "That will never be an excuse. We will put 11 guys on the field and compete against the defending World Champs."