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Tomlin explains 'Chickillo over Harrison'

When T.J. Watt left last Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings with a groin injury, the assumption was that William Gay would replace him at right outside linebacker. After all, Harrison had finished the 2016 season as the starter there, and he did lead the team in sacks with five.

When it was Anthony Chickillo who took Watt's spot instead, it was noticed by Steelers Nation, because Harrison is a fan favorite.

And so it was no surprise when the second question asked of Coach Mike Tomlin during his weekly news conference today had to do with this very subject. Is James Harrison dropping on the Steelers depth chart?

"Is he dropping, or are other guys ascending?," said Tomlin as he began his answer.

"Bud (Dupree) missed some time in Week 1, and (Anthony) Chickillo was able to start. Chickillo produced two sacks. You respect those contributions. T.J. (Watt) got hurt in Week 2, and we wanted to leave the hot hand in there, Chickillo being that hot hand. We appreciate James. We know what James is capable of. James will ready himself, and there will be a time in the season when we'll call on his services, and he'll deliver and deliver in a big way. Much like he did in the latter part of 2016.

"In the meanwhile, we're going to continue to roll people and play, and play guys as we see fit and not do a real good job of maybe describing our mind-set, or outlining our intentions, because part of it is gamesmanship and part of it is it will define itself as we move forward."

"Marcus Gilbert has a hamstring injury that could limit him at the early portions of the week. We'll watch him. His participation and the quality of that participation will dictate his game availability. The same can be said for Jesse James and his ankle injury. Vance McDonald missed the game last week because of a back injury that developed late in the week. That appears to be perking up. I saw him downstairs, and we anticipate him being able to increase his participation over the course of the week and be available for the game.

"Stephon Tuitt, the same thing. We'll be having that conversation about Stephon Tuitt until we're not having that conversation about Stephon Tuitt. We're going to work him a little bit over the course of the week and base his participation during the week on the previous day's performance and push forward toward game day. There is the potential for him to play, and the same can be said for T.J. Watt with his groin injury. J.J. Wilcox is finishing up the last elements of the concussion protocol. When he's out of the protocol, I'll let you know. There's really nothing else to discuss there."

Tomlin later said that all six of the players listed in his injury update have the potential to play on Sunday against the Bears in Chicago.

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