Take One: The Steelers defense is in trouble
With the loss of veteran defensive end Brett Keisel for the season to a triceps tear that required surgery, the team was forced to put him on the injured-reserved list and brought veteran journeyman Clifton Geathers in as a free agent. Many NFL insiders see Geathers’ hiring as a desperation move because Stephon Tuitt, a 2014 NFL draft selection, Daniel McCullers and Cam Thomas have not played strong enough football to take a starting position. Steve McLendon’s shoulder injury means that the defensive line is now in serious jeopardy of being effective through the end of the regular season. Tomlin was specifically asked about his satisfaction with (Cam) Thomas’ performance and where the defense moves forward without Keisel. “I’ve been happy with (Cam’s) performance in spurts,” Tomlin stated. “But make no mistake, a veteran player who we acquired in free agency…when given a challenge and an opportunity like the loss of a Brett Keisel, we’ll expect him to be prepared to give us an added contribution.” Tomlin feels that the addition of Geathers will push Tuitt to produce at a higher level.
The defensive backfield has had several players hampered by injury, especially hamstring issues. Brice McCain is the latest. Safeties Shamarko Thomas and Ross Ventrone were also limited in past weeks due to hamstring injuries. Ike Taylor suffered a severe forearm fracture and came into the game against the Saints looking unready. Safety Troy Polamalu just returned from injury to play against New Orleans.
When he was asked about Taylor admitting he didn’t feel “game ready”, Tomlin said that he felt confident in Taylor being able to compete. “Could he have played better? Certainly,” Tomlin acknowledged. “It was week three since the last time that he played [in a game] and there was a potential for some rust there. But we have to bring him back at some point. He’s a quality veteran player.”
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