- Still confident in Cortez:* *Coach Mike Tomlin remains confident in cornerback Cortez Allen, despite his recent struggles which included him getting pulled from Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field. Allen, who was already relieved of his starting corner spot, was replaced by Antwon Blake late in the game. Tomlin told him after the game he still has confidence in him and it's the ups and downs of the NFL he is experiencing right now, something fellow corner Ike Taylor is familiar with.
"I was doing what I felt was necessary for us to win the football game, but it has no bearing on what I think he is capable of largely or long term," said Tomlin. "He has to lick his wounds, roll his sleeves up and come back to work this week. We'll watch him close, expect him to do it and answer the bell that comes with putting bad stuff on tape.
"I would image Baltimore is going to work to attack him and he better work to defend himself. Such is life in the NFL. Such is life at the cornerback position. I talk often with Ike Taylor about Cortez's situation because he has lived it over the course of a dozen years or so. He's been that guy who has been pulled out of games, demoted in portions of games and so forth and has had bad tape out there and responded positively. Ike's presence and experience in that regard is going to be helpful to Cortez, but ultimately Cortez has got to do it." 2. Deep at ILB:* *With Ryan Shazier still somewhat on the mend last week, and his snap count limited as he returned to action from a knee injury, inside linebacker Vince Williams saw more playing time and responded well to it. Williams, who started 11 games last season, is part of a strong foursome at ILB that also includes starter Lawrence Timmons and backup Sean Spence, and Tomlin said he earned his playing time in the sub packages.
"Vince has worked really hard and been a part of the rotation not only this year, but last year," said Tomlin. "The bottom line is through adversity, injury and the draft we have four inside linebackers that are very capable men. We're going to continue to use combinations of those three guys along with Lawrence to meet our situational needs. That may change during the course of football games, it may change week to week. We are just acknowledging that Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence and Vince Williams are all capable inside linebackers and we are going to use all of them."
- No. 75's night: Steelers Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene will have his No. 75 jersey retired on Sunday night when the Steelers host the Ravens at Heinz Field, and Tomlin knows it's going to be a special time for everyone who is at the game honoring the legend.
"It's Joe Greene," said Tomlin. "We all feel a little better when we see Joe, even though he is not playing. I know the fans have a level of appreciation for him and what he meant to this organization, the city and football in general. I expect it to be a really positive thing and one that we can hopefully find a source of energy from that can help us perform in the game."
Looking for many happy returns:* *The Steelers mixed things up in the kickoff return game last week against the Indianapolis Colts to give that unit a spark, going with veteran LeGarrette Blount. Tomlin said he hasn't decided what the plan will be this week, if they will go back to Dri Archer, the speedster rookie who hasn't broken loose yet, or if they will stick with Blount as the change-up, even though the results were similar. One thing he did indicate, though, is you can't always blame the returner for the struggles of the unit.
"I tell our punt return team all the time that they don't have to block them or block them long," said Tomlin. "Just give A.B. (Antonio Brown) a crease and that's kind of my mentality. So whenever we're lacking in the return game I look first at the returner and then those that are blocking for him. That's why we took the course of action that we took last week. (We) didn't get the type of results that we were looking for so we'll look back at it with a larger scope potentially this week."