Rock solid:* *Cornerback William Gay, who is the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, is having a stellar season that has included three interception returns for touchdowns. Coach Mike Tomlin likes what he has seen from Gay, but isn't surprised.
"Will is a solid, steady contributor," said Tomlin. "He is a seasoned veteran and he plays that way. He is opportunistic. He plays a good, above the neck game. He does a nice job of keeping plays at bay and minimizing negativity. He is always in good position. His eyes are good. I am glad he is getting some of the recognition he deserves for good, solid play."
- Working his way back:* *Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier has slowly worked his way back to seeing more playing time as he returns from injury. Tomlin said he looks for more than just how the players are doing physically to decide how much playing time they will garner. He looks at what they accomplish in practice and in the preparation leading up to the game.
"Detail, detail, detail. It's more about that for a young guy than the physicality of it anyway," said Tomlin. "Are their eyes in the right place? Are they utilizing proper technique to play from a penalty-free standpoint or to win the possession downs against skilled individuals? If you don't understand your leverage and where your help is, you are going to be exposed. So much of that is above the neck and so much is displayed in a practice setting."
Stepping it up:** Linebacker Jarvis Jones has been back in the lineup the last two weeks after missing nine games with a wrist injury. Tomlin said he is seeing steady progress from Jones as he works his way back.
"He is doing a nice job," said Tomlin. "We have guided him back, getting up to speed, football playing shape, detail and assignments. He played more this week than he did the week before. I thought he had a higher quality of play this week than he had the week before. We will continue to do it and continue to give him an opportunity to be a positive contributor to our efforts."
Something special: Shamarko Thomas has been a steady, solid contributor on special teams, but the second-year safety hasn't seen much playing time in the base defense not because of what he is doing, but because of those in front of him, including Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell and Gay.
"Just solid veteran players in front of him," said Tomlin. "Nothing against his contributions and what he is willing to do. His progress was slowed in the middle portions of the season. He had a high ankle that not only cost him to miss some games, but miss some quality practice time and limit that practice time."