Gay practices at old spot

Mike Tomlin had the opportunity to make a necessary change, but so far has passed. William Gay lined up, but the rookies received plenty of work.

PITTSBURGH – If you try to connect the dots, you'll only draw a question mark.

But these are the dots for the Pittsburgh Steelers:

1. William Gay is slumping as badly as any part of a secondary that's largely responsible for five blown fourth-quarter leads this season.

2. Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Monday "we are going to be aggressive in looking at potential changes."

3. Gay suffered an injury on the Raiders' game-winning drive Sunday and left the game. And it wasn't just any old injury, but a concussion – the PC event of the season for the NFL.

So, anyone connecting these dots would presume that, on a short week, Gay would be replaced in the lineup by one or both of the team's rookie cornerbacks – Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett.

Alas, the dots created only the aforementioned question mark as Gay returned to his spot as first-team cornerback at Tuesday's practice, the only practice of the week before Thursday night's game in Cleveland.

In fact, there were no lineup changes made by Tomlin, who couldn't simply be disguising his "coverages" from the media when reps are at such a premium this week.

Both Gay and Ike Taylor worked as starting cornerbacks two days after their disastrous performances against the Raiders helped extend the Steelers' losing streak to four games.

Gay, whose play has worsened with each passing week, admitted to working with the wrong cleat in slipping twice on two key first-half passes.

Taylor played an even worse game. He used the wrong technique on a 75-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy in the fourth quarter, and then allowed Murphy to reel in a jump ball for a 23-yard pass to the Pittsburgh 17 with 27 seconds remaining. The catch set up the game-winning pass to Murphy, who was supposed to be covered by Taylor. He instead blitzed from the corner as Burnett fired from the other corner, as instructed. The safeties slid to Burnett's side and Taylor was supposed to cover Murphy in the corner of the end zone.

As for Gay, he'd been knocked from of the game on a vicious and accidental blow from teammate Ryan Mundy. Gay was replaced by Burnett, who, on his first play, dropped an easy interception to keep the Steelers' interception total by its cornerbacks this season to zero.

"I was out. I was gone," Gay said. "I mean, I don't remember walking off the field."

Gay said he didn't know he was hit by his own teammate until Mundy apologized after the game.

"I asked him what he was apologizing for. He said, ‘I was the one that hit you.' Then I saw it on film and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that was a good hit.'"

But not good enough to keep Gay off the practice field. He was told he'd suffer a loss of appetite, but woke up Monday and ate heartily.

"Then I came in and took the tests," Gay said. "I was off a little bit but they said it was less than 24 hours, so I came back and took it this morning and I passed."

So the Steelers let Gay practice and were to follow that up with another examination, but Gay said he felt fine.

"I hope to play," he said. "That's what I'm aiming for."

NOTES – Hines Ward (hamstring) and Troy Polamalu (knee) missed practice and are not expected to play Thursday. ... The Steelers' game against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 20 has been moved to a 4:15 p.m. start. ... The Steelers signed RB Isaac Redman to their practice squad and released OL Jonathan Palmer.

Steel City Insider Top Stories