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Bad Luck Hovering Over Steelers

Steelers' defensive captain suffers pectoral injury, other notes from Tomlin presser.

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers beat the New York Jets on Oct. 9 to improve to 4-1.

On Oct. 10, Donald Trump waved a Terrible Towel at a rally in Ambridge.

Did Trump mush the Steelers?

It might be one explanation for the current state of the team, now 4-5 and suddenly without its defensive captain, Cam Heyward, for the remainder of the season.

Heyward suffered an injured pectoral muscle during Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He announced the news on social media this way:

"... It pains me to say that I will not get to continue playing this season. My role will change as I cannot play but it will not change the goals the team has set out. My support for this team will only grow and I look forward to watching this team grow and fight on. Hate being on the sideline but there is a greater plan taking place. ..."

Heyward played with the injury Sunday and made only two tackles.

The Steelers have yet to announce a roster move, and will likely start Ricardo Mathews in his place and rotate nose tackle Javon Hargrave into the defensive tackle spot when the Steelers move out of their 3-4 front.

Heyward had previously missed games against the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots with a hamstring injury. In those games, the Steelers allowed 362 yards rushing at 5.6 yards per carry. With Heyward in the lineup, the Steelers allow 3.8 yards per rush.

JOHNSON ON IR

In other injury news, the Steelers placed reserve inside linebacker Steven Johnson on injured reserve with a broken ankle. He was replaced on the roster by L.J. Fort, who had been released Saturday to make room for tight end Ladarius Green.

Also:

Darrius Heyward-Bey will remain out with his foot injury.

Markus Wheaton is being re-evaluated with his shoulder injury. Said Tomlin: "It’s just not perking up in the manner in which we would like or he would like."

DeAngelo Williams "is recovering and working his way back to us from his knee scope."

Shamarko Thomas injured his other groin and is questionable this week.

Jordan Dangerfield is coming off a groin injury that knocked him out of Sunday's game. He will attempt to practice this week.

Sammie Coates played in only two snaps on offense Sunday and Tomlin explained he has two broken fingers. "That limits him in terms of some of the things he’s able to do at wide receiver," Tomlin said. "It doesn’t limit him in terms of some of the things he’s able to do in special teams. He’s done a good job of covering kicks and punts for us, and he’s doing a great job of continuing to work. But it has stymied some of his offensive growth and development."

NEXT UP ...

The Steelers face the winless Cleveland Browns, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens in their previous game, two Thursday nights ago, 28-7, at Baltimore.

"I know that they are 0-10," said Tomlin. "I will acknowledge that they are coming off of an extended week or 10-day preparation going into this game. I understand how big this game is for them. I also understand how big this game is for us. They are a hungry football team searching for a win. We are a hungry football team searching for a win. We have seven games left to play, four of which are division games. We understand the importance of every single one of those games, not to mention the division play. Hopefully we are right for the fight. I know that we are going to prepare in that way."

POPCORN

Tomlin explained that comments coming out of the locker room about the team lacking discipline are due to what's showing on tape, and that "We're a very transparent group. We might not be as downtrodden as we seem, but that's because we speak the truth."

And about the complaints from both players and Tomlin himself that the team is lacking in detailed work, Tomlin said, "I don’t want to act like it’s rampant, it’s not. ...  Oftentimes, these games come down to a small number of plays. And so when we’re talking about lack of detail or discipline, it’s not rampant. But it’s enough that it’s been changing the outcome of games."

Tomlin summed the topic up this way: "It’s been popcorn. It’s a global thing. We’ve got to all continue to work, both players and coaches, at eliminating it. I’m open to doing whatever needs to be done in terms of making appropriate changes that change the outcome of this and games -- and will."

Popcorn?

"A splattering of incidences," Tomlin said. "One here, one there, one there."


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