Tomlin listed wide receiver/return man Antonio Brown's status for Monday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs as "very much in doubt." Brown suffered an ankle sprain late in the first quarter of the Steelers' 24-20 win over the New York Giants. Tomlin said he'll "leave the door ajar" for a potential return by the big-play receiver, but "usually those aren't positive things for someone who earns his living the way he earns his living, with short-area quickness and change of direction."
Brown was replaced at receiver by Jerricho Cotchery, who converted a third-and-6 on the next play and also gained 24 yards on another catch to set up a late first-half field goal.
Brown was also replaced as the punt returner by Emmanuel Sanders, who returned a fourth-quarter punt 63 yards that indirectly set up the game-winning touchdown.
Speaking of Sanders, he will most likely return punts and kickoffs Monday night due to Chris Rainey's rib injury.
Tomlin also passed around some good news.
The two players are expected to participate in practice this week "in a limited capacity, but I am optimistic about them," Tomlin said, meaning he expects Polamalu and Gilbert to be back for the game against the Baltimore Ravens two Sundays from now.
Mendenhall, Dwyer and last week's star, Isaac Redman, have taken turns gaining 100 yards of offense in each of the last five games. If all three are available, will Tomlin pick one? Or will he revert to the committee approach used early in the season?
"Whoever's being productive when healthy will get the totes," Tomlin said. "I really think it's that simple. … Whoever's effective, they'll get the ball."