O-Line shuffle … again
Center Chris Watt and guard/tackle D.J. Fluker were both limited in practice this week and are questionable for Monday. Guard Orland Franklin is out; left tackle King Dunlap is doubtful and has not practiced since suffering a concussion in Week Three against the Vikings.
It’s possible Trevor Robinson will remain at center and Fluker/Watt will patch up the guard positions … but, who knows. Really. The misfit line played well against the Browns and is hopeful it can battle through this Steelers game and get more guys healthy for the trip to Green Bay.
"Trevor’s outstanding," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said earlier this week. "We love Trevor. When he stepped in at the end of last year, we really realized we had a winner. Philip has an extreme amount of confidence in him. He just understands the game, communicates extremely fast, processes things very quickly and is tough. He’s the right guy for the job."
The Bell will ring
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is averaging 4.7 yards per carry so far this season. The Chargers defense is giving up an average of 4.9 yards per attempt. They're going to need to tackle, tackle, tackle if they're going to stop Bell from running all over them Monday night.
Bell isn't the only Steelers' playmaker; there's also wide receiver Antonio Brown, who's regarded as one of the best receiving threats in the league.Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, has set franchise records in catches (34) and receiving yards (478) through the first four games of the season.
Welcome back, Gates
Tight end Antonio Gates will take the field for the first time this season, now that he's served his four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Gates is one of quarterback Philip Rivers' favorite targets -- the two can make plays with their eyes closed -- so it will be interesting to see how he's used Monday night and how much he plays, especially with WR Stevie Johnson ruled out (hamstring) and WR Malcom Floyd listed as "questionable" on the injury report because of a concussion he sustained last week.
Gates, who has 99 career receiving touchdowns, has a chance to reach the century mark Monday night -- making him only the second tight end in history to do so (behind Tony Gonzalez).
In the absence of Gates, tight end Ladarius Green stepped up, catching 14 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Defenses will have to respect his playmaking abilities just as they do Gates, which might open some options downfield for Rivers.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson,a former first-rounder who spent five seasons with the Saints before signing with San Diego, notched a pick-6 off quarterback Michael Vick in 2012 -- running the ball 99-yards for the touchdown.
"In the past I've had some success against [Vick]," Robinson said Wednesday. "I hope to continue to have success on Monday.”