By Teresa Varley
Head coach Mike Tomlin usually addresses injuries in the opening of his weekly press conference, and if he doesn't, the media normally bring them up with the first question on two.
But on Tuesday, it took a while before the injuries were even brought up and for good reason. The Steelers are healthy.
"I didn't talk about injuries because, quite frankly, we have a clean bill of health," said Tomlin. "That is the first time in a long time."
The Steelers had a full roster practicing on Monday, their first day of preparation for the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
Safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison both missed the Browns game after suffering injuries against the Tennessee Titans. Other who were injured, including fullback Carey Davis and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, have also been given a clean bill of health.
"Those are the guys that had circumstances that the off-week worked in our favor," said Tomlin. "We were able to get those guys the rest and recuperation that they needed. It is a non-issue; we practiced (Monday) and everybody participated fully, which is good because we have a highly-contested battle ahead of us."
Running back Gary Russell emerged as a short-yardage, goal-line back the last time the Steelers and Chargers met and he continues in that role.
"He is a one-trick pony," said Tomlin. "We like to tease him because he is downhill; it doesn't matter what play you call, it is downhill with him. That happens to be a positive attribute for that circumstance."
Tomlin indicated that Russell does have a knack for knowing where the end zone is, but he also has that same ability in the open field.
"I just think it is who he is as a runner," said Tomlin. "He runs behind his pads; very rarely is he knocked back; he has a nice center of gravity; he is a competitor. He has been doing a nice job for us in those areas, and not only in those areas, but as a kickoff return man as well."
Linebacker James Harrison is one of the NFL Alumni 2008 Player of the Year honorees. Former players vote for a player at the position where they once played and Harrison took the honors at linebacker. Harrison will receive the honor at the 27th Annual Player of the Year Awards Dinner held in Tampa on January 30.
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With one playoff game already ending in overtime this season, the sudden-death format has again become a hot topic for many. But not for Tomlin, who was asked his thoughts on it during his weekly press conference.
"I don't worry about that; the rules are what they are," said Tomlin. "How we conduct our business is what it is. Everybody is aware of it, so you play to it. I think that you can spend a lot of time crying over spilled milk, but the reality of it is our setup is what it is. You understand the lay of the land; you have to play to it. It is no different than a few weeks ago when people were talking about division winners getting home playoff games. It is our system and you have to embrace it. That is what I choose to do."