- Carrying the load: As the season wears on and December football has arrived, players bodies tend to wear down as well. That isn't a concern for Coach Mike Tomlin as far as running back Le'Veon Bell is concerned. Bell is expected to carry the load for the running game for the remainder of the season, and it's a role Tomlin thinks he is perfect for.
"He has the pedigree for it," said Tomlin. "That is one of the things that attracted us to him in the draft. He played on a talented offense up there at Michigan State his sophomore year, but then his junior year a number of those guys were in the NFL. A lot of the football went through him his last year at Michigan State. All you had to do was watch him over the course of that season and gain a level of comfort with his ability to tote the load.
"During his time here he has proven he is capable of doing that on the NFL stage not only in terms of the running game, but his inclusion in the passing game. He is going to get the bulk of the carries. He is a highly conditioned guy, he is a mentally tough guy. He is a competitor. Personally I think he is built for it and is excited about having an opportunity to do it for us." 2. Arrow pointed up:* *Rookie Wide receiver Martavis Bryant missed several opportunities to make key plays on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints when Ben Roethlisberger threw to him four times, but he had just one reception for 23 yards. And while Tomlin acknowledges there were plays he missed, he said both him and second-year receiver Markus Wheaton are two players on the rise.
"Martavis had an opportunity for a play or two that he didn't make in this past game," said Tomlin. "Largely the arrow is pointed up not only on him but Markus Wheaton. You always tend to remember the things that can be somewhat negative, the plays that you need them to make, or expect them to make based on pedigree. The one-on-one jump ball plays. Largely these young guys are working hard and getting better on a day-to-day basis.
"If I had to categorize their performance in general I would say the arrow is pointed up on both guys."** 3. **
Quick learner:** With Brett Keisel on injured reserve and out for the season with a torn triceps, the Steelers added defensive end Clifton Geathers to the active roster on Monday. And while the Steelers are going to need quick help on the line, it's going to take Geathers some time to get adjusted this week.
"We feel like he is a guy that has the capability to help us," said Tomlin. "First we have to get him up to speed, we have to teach him what to do and check his overall level of conditioning. In terms of forecasting what he is capable of doing inside the stadium this weekend, we'll see. That will be determined as we work." 4.
Lining up:* *The defensive line will also look to several players already on the roster to help fill the void created by Keisel's injury, including Cam Thomas and rookie Stephon Tuitt. Thomas, signed as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has seen playing time when Keisel isn't on the field in certain packages and Tomlin said he has been pleased with his performance "in spurts."
"His contribution has been related to the availability of those around him," said Tomlin. "With Brett out and Clifton being somewhat of an unknown that challenges Cam Thomas, but it also challenges Stephon Tuitt. We'll take it to the grass and see those guys overall readiness and let that be our guide. We'll expect (Cam) to give us an added contribution."