Who Will Play Linebacker?

By utilizing press/man coverage with two deep safeties Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense looked like it was coordinated by Mike Tomlin and not coordinator Dick LeBeau ...

... But on Sunday against the Ravens, the Steelers could use more of the "Tampa Two" that Tomlin learned under Tony Dungy at Tampa Bay. The Steelers could use four defensive linemen in their base if the injury crisis at linebacker continues.

"We have some flexibility," Tomlin said. "We might be capable of playing with four defensive linemen. We do know that our answers generally are in-house."

Tomlin was asked if that meant he'd use a 4-3 defense.

"Or 4-2 or one of the many variations that we have," he said. "We're open to all potential possibilities, but we're not going to go grasping at straws outside of our building."

Of course, the "Tampa Two" was coached by Dungy after he tinkered with what he had learned from Bud Carson and Chuck Noll with the Steelers in the 1970s.

That defense could come home to roost – at least for a while – if the linebackers don't get healthy. James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior are all expected to miss Sunday's game, with Woodley and Farrior possibly out for a couple of games.

That leaves the group that finished the win over New England – Lawrence Timmons, second-year man Stevenson Sylvester, Larry Foote and rookie Chris Carter – along with Jason Worilds and Mortty Ivy, who was called up from the practice squad last week.

Worilds, the would-be replacement for Harrison, will return to practice Wednesday after missing the last four games with a quadriceps injury.

"If he's able to finish that will be good for him and us," Tomlin said.

Would Worilds start at ROLB and send Timmons back inside?

"Worilds hasn't played in weeks," Tomlin said. "Right now Lawrence is our outside linebacker. We'll see where the week takes us."

Harrison will also return to practice Wednesday after missing 31 days with a broken right orbital bone suffered against the Houston Texans. Harrison, via Twitter, reported that he'll miss Sunday's game against the Ravens, but Tomlin was non-committal.

"We'll re-evaluate him later in the week," he said.

Woodley suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter against the Patriots. He had an unobstructed path to quarterback Tom Brady before slumping to the turf without being touched. Reports indicate Woodley could miss a month.

Farrior is expected to practice Wednesday on a limited basis with his injured calf.

As for the remainder of the injury list, OG Doug Legursky (toe) is the only player officially ruled out of Sunday's game. Farrior, Chris Hoke, Emmanuel Sanders (left knee), Woodley, Harrison, Hines Ward and Worilds will be monitored throughout the week.

Sanders injured his knee in the first half last Sunday but continued playing. He's not been evaluated yet due to a death in his family.

Sanders caught 5 passes for 70 yards Sunday in the greatest passing assault, in a win, in team history.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set a team record for attempts and completions (50 and 36) in a win.

The old attempts-in-a-win record was held by Bobby Layne, who threw 49 passes in a win over the Chicago Cardinals on Dec. 13, 1958. Joe Gilliam threw 50 in a tie against Denver in 1974.

Neil O'Donnell held the other previous record with 34 completions in the overtime win over the Chicago Bears in 1995.

Of course, Tomlin will change the game plan this week against the Baltimore Ravens and their No. 1 defense. New England is ranked last in defense in the NFL.

"We're not going to drop back and throw the ball 50 times versus the Baltimore Ravens," Tomlin said. "You're going to get sacked, fumbled and intercepted."

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