By Jeremy Hritz
The sting of the loss is starting to subside and some distance has grown in between the forgettable contest against the Raiders and the present moment. There is no more time to sulk and nurse wounds as a beaten Bengals team is on tap, ready to forget about their own loss at the hands of the Bears in a game in which Joe Burrow threw three interceptions. Not to call this a must win on Sunday, but this is an important game, as the Steelers cannot afford to drop a winnable AFC showdown, let alone a divisional battle. With that said, here are my Steelers Study Notes for today, including highlights of today’s Mike Tomlin press conference.
- No The Steelers fell in the NFL.com Power Rankings from #5 to #12, and while that doesn’t mean anything, it points to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? mentality of pundits and fans across the board. Did the Steelers deserve to jump to #5 after the Bills win? Probably not. Are they #12 after the loss to the Raiders? Probably not. The truth is somewhere in between, and it’s too early to draw any hard conclusions.
- Taco Charlton, former Dallas Cowboys DE/OLB was signed to the practice squad today. Hopefully this is not an indication of a more serious injury to TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, as they both continue to battle groin injuries. Devon Bush and Joe Haden continue to be listed on the injury report with groins, while Diontae Johnson is listed with a knee, and more than likely he will miss a few weeks. Roster move coming?
- Speaking of injuries, Tomlin reported that Ben Roethlisberger has a left pectoral injury and will be limited during the week. Ben got pummeled last weekend against the Raiders and his injury is what he unfortunately has to show for it. Hopefully, he is not rusty/tentative as a result of not practicing/being limited this week. Is there a chance we see Mason Rudolph this weekend?
- Remember when the Steelers were healthy coming out of Buffalo? This too shall pass…
- Tomlin said that Roethlisberger and Matt Canada are on the same page despite Ed Bouchette’s speculation in The Athletic. He added, “they’re 1-1 like we’re all 1-1.”
- Tomlin was also complimentary of OLB Jamir Jones and was optimistic about future opportunities, especially in light of the injuries. Tomlin said, “He’s done solidly,” which is high praise of a young player from the head coach, and he also indicated, “he might get an increased opportunity to participate this weekend…”.
- So much for Tomlin hearing my feedback about landing a better tackle. When asked about whether or not he was considering changes it the offensive line, he responded, “I’m not.” He is going to ride with his 5, and while I love the confidence, I hope he doesn’t get Roethlisberger killed in the process.
- The Steelers are 4.5 point underdogs heading into Sunday’s game against the Bengals. With all of the injuries, this seems generous. While the Steelers should win, we cannot underestimate a young and hungry Burrow, even though he has an awful offensive line. The Bengals will come ready to play on Sunday and the Steelers must be ready to avoid a 1-2 start.
- The tonic for the offense’s ailments? Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball. Najee Harris needs more than 10 carries. Tomlin said in his press conference the run game won’t improve over night. We can’t even know for certain if it has improved with only 10 carries. Let’s get him 25-30 totes and see what he can do. Allow him to get into a rhythm. Take the pressure off of Ben. This needs to happen this weekend.
That is all for today! Be sure to check out the third episode of the Steelers Insider Podcast with Jim Wexell on 24/7 Sports, as we recorded and released a new episode this AM! Have a great rest of your Tuesday!