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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Steelers won't blink if Antonio Brown is out

By Jamison Hensley

The Steelers will likely be without leading receiver Antonio Brown for Monday night's game against Kansas City, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. Brown is dealing with a sprained right ankle.

Beyond QB Ben Roethlisberger getting hurt, do the Steelers even care who is injured these days? Pittsburgh has the NFL's top-ranked defense despite the fact that three Pro Bowl players (safety Troy Polamalu and linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley) have missed a combined eight starts. The Steelers have won three straight games despite having a backfield so banged up that no one knows who is starting each week. And the Steelers are within one game of the division-leading Ravens despite an offensive line that has had three projected starters sidelined for at least one game each this year (center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard David DeCastro and right tackle Marcus Gilbert).

Brown plays a tough role in the Steelers' passing attack, going over the middle and turning short catches into big gains. Mike Wallace proved he could do the same Sunday when Brown was out, taking a pass on a shallow crossing route and breaking away for a 51-yard touchdown.

The Steelers are fortunate they have a talented backup, speedy Emmanuel Sanders, who has found a way to stay healthy this season. Sanders will also take over Brown's role as the primary returner. He averaged 25.3 yards on three punt returns and nearly broke one for a touchdown.