Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steelers Must Find a Way to Answer Challenges

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Steelers Must Find a Way to Answer Challenges

Article excerpt

The Steelers' short-term challenge is to beat the New England Patriots Sunday without their franchise quarterback, their top defensive player, their starting right tackle and maybe their second-best defender. Their long-term task is just as formidable. They must find a way to overcome their injury adversity and thrive the way the Patriots did without suspended Tom Brady and injured Rob Gronkowski.

I know, it seems hopeless.

Ben Roethlisberger will miss the game Sunday because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, which was repaired surgically Monday morning. If his rehabilitation goes well, he might only miss one game because of the Steelers' off week Oct. 30. Their next game is Nov. 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. But, at this stage of his career, at 34, it won't be surprising if Roethlisberger misses more time.

Cam Heyward will miss his second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. He, too, will be fortunate to be back for the Ravens game.

Marcus Gilbert likely will miss his third consecutive game because of an ankle/foot injury. Offensive linemates Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are more honored, but Gilbert is so well thought of that the Steelers gave him a five-year, $30.8 million contract.

Ryan Shazier has a chance to play against the Patriots after missing the past two games with a knee injury. Can we agree the Steelers could use that sort of lift after everything they've been through with injuries?

These are not good times for the team despite its 4-2 record and first-place standing in the AFC North Division.

Let me point that out another way.

How do you like the Brady-vs.-Landry Jones matchup Sunday?

I thought so.

It's hard to have faith in Jones. The Steelers coaches clearly don't. They allowed Roethlisberger to play on his bad knee in the second half of the team's 30-15 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins. They allowed him to play with a bad shoulder in the playoff win in Cincinnati in January when he barely could throw the football 10 yards. You also might remember Mike Tomlin's lukewarm evaluation of Jones' work after last season.

But Jones won the backup job in training camp and during the preseason. He will get all of the practice time this week with the first-team offense, which should help. If there's another reason to believe in him, it's the way he played against a very good Arizona team last season in place of the injured Roethlisberger. He led the Steelers to an improbable 25-13 win. It's hard to imagine him doing it again against the Patriots, but it is the NFL, right? Anything can happen. On any given Sunday, blah, blah, blah.

Tomlin and the Steelers medical staff are taking a beating this week from critics because they allowed Roethlisberger to come back in the game against the Dolphins after he was injured midway through the second quarter. …

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