Woodley working his way back

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley missed his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury, but continues fighting to get back on the field.

"He appears to be moving toward game readiness," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We will watch him throughout the week to solidify that but we like where he is."

Two other linebackers, Chris Carter and Larry Foote, suffered hamstring injuries against the Chiefs and they will be monitored throughout the week.

"Chris Carter is questionable at best with a hamstring injury," said Tomlin. "Larry Foote has a hamstring injury. We are going to watch him, although it's to a lesser extent than Chris Carter's. We are going to watch him throughout the week to see if he will be available for us."

Center Maurkice Pouncey left the Chiefs game with a stomach virus, and while he has improved he still has some of the after effects.

"It may limit him at the early portions of the week," said Tomlin. "He's dehydrated, and he's lost a significant amount of weight. We just have to take care of that young man, and make sure he is pushing forward towards the weekend."

Tomlin does expect Arnaz Battle and Stevenson Sylvester to return to action this week after both were sidelined against the Chiefs.

"We will look at how they perform during the course of the practice week and see if we need to utilize those guys in preparation and play against the Cincinnati Bengals," said Tomlin.

The Steelers were a disappointing three for 11 on third downs against the Chiefs, converting a mere 27 percent, and it certainly didn't go unnoticed by Tomlin.

"From third downs offensively, that may have been our worst performance of the season," said Tomlin. "We acknowledge that. We have to get back on a positive track."

The performance definitely wasn't the norm for the Steelers offense that is currently ranked second overall in the NFL in third down efficiency, but it was a performance Tomlin doesn't want to see repeated.

"We've been very consistent in that area but we weren't on Sunday night," said Tomlin. "I thought that was a difference in our area of production offensively. It didn't produce more snap opportunities, and it didn't keep drives alive. That's the price you pay when you're not producing on third downs. We were 3-for-11 in the football game, so you are not going to have a very fluid performance when you perform like that on third downs."

In addition the Steelers were one-for-three in the red zone, including a fumble by Mewelde Moore on the two-yard line.

"If we want to be a good team and beat good people, we have to get seven points when we are in the red area," said Tomlin. "And if we don't, we at least have to put some points on the board. That was a factor in our offensive production."

After not starting against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 13 Hines Ward was back in the starting lineup against Kansas City on Sunday night.

Ward finished the game with four receptions for 21 yards, now just nine yards shy of 12,000 career receiving yards.

"Like I said before the previous game, we are going to let the participation of our guys be determined based on how we feel they can help us win on a week-to-week basis," said Tomlin. "Obviously, we felt he had a bigger role in this matchup, and he performed in such a manner. That's always going to be the case. We are in the process of formulating a similar plan this week in regards to how we will utilize Hines and others.

"We've dealt with injuries over the course of this season, and what's been proven to us is that we have a lot of guys that are capable of helping us win. It provides awesome dilemmas for us moving forward. Ones that as a coach, I embrace. Who do you use, how much do you use them, are good issues and problems to have from my perspective."

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