Coach Mike Tomlin begins each of his regular weekly news conferences at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex with an assessment of the Steelers’ most recent game, in this case a 26-24 victory over Indianapolis. He chose to begin with an aspect of the performance he judged inadequate.
“We have to run the ball better on offense, particularly in the waning moments of the game,” said Tomlin. “We weren’t able to maintain possession of the ball. I thought (Indianapolis) won the line of scrimmage. We have to be better in those areas.”
It’s possible some of the Steelers’ issues with their ground game last Sunday can be traced to the injuries to the top of their depth chart at running back, where James Conner (shoulder) and Benny Snell (knee) both missed the game.
After his assessment of the Steelers performance against the Colts, Tomlin updated the injury situation:
TOMLIN’S INJURY UPDATE
“Ramon Foster is scheduled to practice (Wednesday). He’s still technically in the (concussion) protocol, but he’s scheduled to work. James Conner, we’re going to let his participation (in practice) this week be our guide, in terms of his availability (for the game). He’s probably going to be limited some in the early portions of the week. We will expect him to perk up as the week evolves and then make decisions accordingly. Trey Edmunds, with his rib injury, is going to be limited as well. Rosie Nix is still working off his knee (injury) and may be limited in the early portions of the week.
“I’m optimistic about all of those guys being available (for the game), but again, there will be no bold predictions. We’ll see where the week leads us.
“Benny Snell is still out and recovering from his knee surgery. Ulysees Gilbert is anticipated to be out with his back (injury), which has been an issue for the last several weeks.”
The injuries to Conner and Snell had the Steelers make a roster move late in the week, with running back Tony Brooks-James activated from the practice squad and veteran receiver Donte Moncrief waived to create a spot for him.
“We’ll see,” said Tomlin when asked about whether Brooks-James would have a role in the running game moving forward. “We’ll make our division of labor judgments based on who’s available to us. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Last week, I thought he had a skill set that was a little bit different than some others. He’s quick to speed, he’s more of a space player, different than some of our other guys, so I thought it added to our group a week ago. We’ll see what our mix is this week and distribute our labor accordingly.”
On another injury-related topic, Tomlin was asked about Sean Davis, who injured his shoulder in the Sept. 15 game vs. Seattle and was placed on injured reserve in conjunction with the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick via a trade with Miami. After a player spends eight weeks on injured reserve, teams have the option to return the player to practice with the potential of returning him to the 53-man roster.
When the question of whether Sean Davis might be a candidate to return from injured reserve, Tomlin said, “I haven’t asked, to be quite honest with you. Some of those questions you ponder as people get closer to health. The ability to move that designated-to-return status around allows you not to ask those questions. You just wait for health to present itself and then make judgments accordingly, whether it’s Sean or other people.”