- Not an issue:* *Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin likes to take the worst case scenario approach when it comes to injuries, always being prepared if somebody can't go. That is the case this week as the Steelers have signed former Browns running back Ben Tate, insurance in the event that Le'Veon Bell can't play Saturday night against the Ravens. Tomlin said he doesn't think it will be a problem Tate to be ready to go in just a few days and be ready to make an impact.
"It's realistic. It's realistic at any position," said Tomlin. "A man rightly motivated and given time to prepare can do it in a number of days. We brought James Harrison back after the Carolina game. I know he had been here in the past. It seemingly appears to be a plug and play, but that guy had been away from us for over 12 months. He had been a part of another defense. He hadn't been in a training camp setting, he was getting off the couch and played for us that weekend.
"It's not the case with Ben. He's been in a training camp situations. He's played football this year. He's had a helmet on as recently as a couple of weeks ago. The physical aspect of getting in playing shape is an element of the equation that is moot." 2. Making a splash:* *In a 60 minute battle, sometimes it can come down to that one splash play, something that makes a difference in the outcome of a game. When it comes to the Steelers-Ravens it's never uncommon, whether it's a huge play on offense, defense, or special teams, anything can happen when these two teams meet. Even though you know something could be coming, it's not something you can prepare for.
"We have had positivity of our own that is splash play oriented, whether it's big plays in the kicking game, or Antonio (Brown) on that big third-down catch and run the last time we played them or Markus Wheaton on the deep ball last time we played them," said Tomlin. "One thing that the history of this thing tells me is splash plays are going to be an element of it, but it's not something you can prepare for. You can't go out with the intent of getting splash plays. You just have to be solid, sound, have to play hard, and you have to play smart. I am sure they feel the same way."
On the rise:** The Steelers secondary has been one of the most criticized units on the team this season, under scrutiny each week, particularly when they allow a big play. But it's also a unit that has played strong in the past month, and a lot of that reason according to Tomlin, is time.
"I think that's been on the come for even more than that, but there are hiccups along the way that maybe doesn't allow you to see it coming," said Tomlin. "I thought we made some significant plays, even going outside the last three or four games in that area. But if you give up an 80-yarder before the half against Tennessee or you let A.J. Green get behind you in Cincinnati for an 80-yarder, you forget about the positivity in the other 70 snaps. These guys have been on the come for a number of months and they are just getting solid, minimizing big plays and making plays of their own. I think big picture wise they have had an upper trajectory over the larger part of the season."
Bouncing back:* *Injuries have hampered linebacker Ryan Shazier's rookie season, pushing him out of the starting lineup in favor of Sean Spence, while Vince Williams took his spot in the nickel package. But Shazier saw more playing time against the Bengals on Sunday night, and is getting back to the player he was.
"I thought he played well," said Tomlin. "I thought the arrow was pointed up with him. I thought he has done a nice job of getting back on a moving train. We have talked about it in recent weeks, health doesn't always dictate participation, particularly as guys define roles and guys ascend and make plays. Those guys did a nice job of ascending when he was out, they did a nice job of making it difficult for him to work back into the fold. He has done a nice job of working back into the fold."