Running backs Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) have both missed the last two games, though there’s a chance each could return in New York. Mendenhall will begin individual workouts on Wednesday while Redman should be in pads.
Pittsburgh certainly looked impressive while stomping the Redskins, hardly resembling the unit that stumbled in early season road losses to Oakland and Tennessee.
“Obviously, we didn’t get off to a great start,” he said. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve taken steps to rectify that.”
“We’re 4-3,” he said. “Not only offensively, but defensively and from the special teams standpoint. I’d like to think that we’re a group on the rise and one that’s gelling and coming together and solidifying a personality.”
While the Steelers have kept opponents in check, they’re not exactly producing the kind of splash defensive plays that have defined coordinator Dick LeBeau’s second tenure. Pittsburgh is next-to-last in the NFL in takeaways (7) and is 24th in the league in sacks with 12.
Still, they are second behind San Francisco in yards allowed (274.1), a byproduct of good tackling and an offense that tends to stay on the field for long stretches of time. The Steelers trail only Houston in time of possession, holding onto the ball more than 34 minutes a game.
“I’ve always said I’m at my best when I’m sitting on the bench,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “I’ve got no problem sitting there and watching the offense work.”
Besides, Pittsburgh believes the big plays will eventually come. Polamalu remains sidelined indefinitely but is expected to return at some point. Linebacker James Harrison continues to round into shape after lingering knee issues kept him out of the lineup for all of training camp and the first month of the season.
“He’s getting better and this is a guy that had no preseason work in training camp and so forth,” Tomlin said. “I think he’s getting better with every snap.”
Notes: Tomlin said the team hasn’t made a decision on how to proceed with rookie NT Alameda Ta’amu, who was reinstated to the team on Monday after serving a two-week suspension. Ta’amu still faces more than a dozen charges _ including several felonies _ following a run-in with police on Oct. 14. The team has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to make a roster move … Tomlin called WR Antonio Brown’s 15-yard taunting penalty during a punt return against the Redskins “not respectable.” Brown ran the final 20 yards to the end zone backward while jawing at a Washington defender, though the play was called back due to an illegal block.
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