Tomlin added that he will be looking at all three phases up until game time.
So what are the potential lineup changes? After giving up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders, I anticipate most of them coming on defense.
Here are some possibilities:
Why: This is the easiest to predict because Gay (concussion) is injured and unlikely to play on a short week. Tomlin said Burnett likely will be the starter if Gay cannot play. Keenan Lewis also is in the mix. But even if Gay is available, I think he’s skating on thin ice. He has struggled in recent weeks in coverage.
Why: Tomlin could have an interesting decision at safety with Mundy waiting in the wings. He’s a young player the coaching staff has liked since training camp. And with Clark playing poorly and Carter limited as a playmaker, Mundy could start in place of either player. It’s really a matter of who Tomlin feels needs to be replaced.
Why: Fox replaced Timmons earlier this season when he was hurt, and Pittsburgh played some of its best defense of the season. Tomlin likely remembers and could look to Fox again. Timmons has been at his best as a specialty player who can come off the bench and cover a tight end or rush the passer. But, whether it’s injuries or performances, he has struggled at times as an every down player.
CB Ike Taylor replaced by Keenan Lewis
Why: Could Tomlin really go with two rookie cornerbacks against Cleveland? I don’t think so. Taylor has allowed some big plays and struggled to hold on to potential interceptions. But he’s still the team’s best cover cornerback, and it would be a huge risk to pull Taylor from the starting lineup.
Also on the injury front, receiver Hines Ward injured his hamstring late against the Oakland Raiders and is “very questionable.” Rookie receiver Mike Wallace likely would start if Ward cannot go. Safety Troy Polamalu (knee) also is not expected to play Thursday.