Labriola On

Two defensive starters open week on injury list

Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green both are on the injured reserve list, which means neither will be available for the Bengals when they visit the Steelers in both teams' regular season finale on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. at Heinz Field. In response to their circumstances, the Bengals have turned much of their offense over to running back Joe Mixon.

Mixon has rushed for 1,063 yards in 13 games this season, and he has done that with an average of 4.7 per carry while scoring eight touchdowns. In the last five games, Mixon has rushed for 479 yards on 96 carries (5.0 average) and scored three touchdowns.

"They've been running the ball extremely well, and Joe Mixon has been central to that," said Coach Mike Tomlin today during his weekly news conference at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. "When you're looking to minimize the things the Bengals do offensively, I think it starts with trying to minimize him."

To that end, the Steelers are entering the week of preparation potentially down two defensive starters, both of whom were injured last Sunday in New Orleans.

Those two starters are free safety Sean Davis, who leads the team with 79 tackles, to go along with one interception and seven passes defensed; and Vince Williams, currently second on the team to Davis in tackles with 76, to go along with 4.5 sacks, one interception, and two passes defensed.

"Sean Davis has a quadriceps (injury). He's downstairs managing it right now. We'll see where that leads us in terms of his participation throughout this week and ultimately his play. Vince Williams went down during the game with a toe (injury). That's being evaluated. His availability is in question, and obviously we'll watch him throughout the course of the week in terms of his practice participation. The same thing with James Conner. I thought his participation was on the upswing at the end of last week with his ankle (injury). We'll be watching him closely to see if he can be a positive contributor to our efforts this week, and his practice participation and effectiveness (in practice) will be a major factor in that."

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