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“It was under unusual circumstances,” Tomlin said. “To have a guy come in and deliver the way he delivered for us, not only in terms of snapping the football but declaring fronts and blocking people in the run game, it was just a special afternoon for him.”

Legursky is out for Sunday, and if Pouncey can’t play Essex will get the call again, though Tomlin sounded optimistic Pouncey will be ready.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (strained left hamstring), and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (right foot) could also play in Cleveland.

Tomlin will not rest players just to rest them, but could modify the amount of playing time depending on how things shake out elsewhere, particularly if Baltimore gets up big on Cincinnati and the Steelers know they’ll have to start the playoffs on the road the weekend of Jan. 7-8.

“Those are the easy decisions I can make as the game and situations unfold,” Tomlin said. “Some of them are obvious. … That’s not rocket science as far as we’re concerned.”