2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Steelers still focused on winning, not 2014

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-10 18:16

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The playoffs are practically off the table for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So, apparently, is planning ahead to 2014.

Coach Mike Tomlin stressed Tuesday his team is focused on beating AFC North leader Cincinnati on Sunday night, not treating the final three weeks of the season as an extended job interview.

The last time Tomlin checked, he is paid to win games not play out the string.

''I don't expect the mentality to change,'' Tomlin said. ''I know mine won't, and I know the presentation of material or the approach to preparation, or even our intentions in terms of how we're going to go about victory are not going to change.''

The Steelers (5-8) saw any real postseason hopes vanish when Antonio Brown's left foot stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12 on the final play of a 34-28 loss to the Dolphins.

All it really did, however, was put the finishing touches on a disappointing fall that began when Pittsburgh dropped its first four games.

After spending two months trying to climb out of that massive hole, Tomin acknowledged his team's winless September was ''catastrophic.''

''When you start 0-4, you understand the ramifications of that,'' Tomlin said.

The Steelers' bid to become the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs after such a miserable opening four weeks is now all but gone.

That doesn't mean Tomlin is necessarily displeased with what he's seen. The team that couldn't run the ball and couldn't take it away three months ago has found a way to do a little bit of both recently.

Troy Polamalu picked up his fifth career touchdown with a 19-yard interception return for a score and rookie running back Le'Veon Bell is becoming the dynamic playmaker the Steelers envisioned when they took him in the second round of the draft.

''Obviously, we haven't been 9-0 since that (start) but I do think that we have answered some of those questions and have improved in some of those areas,'' Tomlin said.

Just not enough to get back to .500.

''It is a very small margin of error when you lose the first four games,'' safety Ryan Clark said. ''For us, you can't split quarters of the season. If you lose four games, somewhere in there you need a four-game winning streak to even it out.''

It hasn't happened.

Now Pittsburgh needs to win out it if wants to avoid its first losing season since 2003.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pledged there would be ''no quit'' in the Steelers but they find themselves at a crossroads.

Few players in the locker room have endured a December with nothing at stake.

Pittsburgh played a meaningless finale against Cleveland to end 2012. The Steelers drummed the Browns to avoid a losing season. They need to beat the Bengals and Green Bay over the next two weeks to even make that a possibility this time around.

''It's just been that season you know?'' cornerback Ike Taylor said. ''We don't want it to be like that, but that's how it is man. It's very frustrating, very frustrating.''

The one thing the season isn't, though, is over. It's a message Tomlin doesn't think he'll have to repeat throughout the week.

The coach whose mantra is ''the standard is the standard'' knows his players are aware that it doesn't change even if the circumstances do.

''We are putting together a plan that is geared toward defeating the Cincinnati Bengals,'' he said.

Something the Steelers failed to do in a 20-10 loss on the road in September. The defeat dropped Pittsburgh to 0-2.

The Steelers insisted it wasn't time to panic. Two more losses followed and despite improved play over the past nine weeks, Pittsburgh is four games back in the division for the rematch.

Pittsburgh for once enters the final stretch relatively healthy. Defensive end Brett Keisel, who has missed three of the past four games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, worked out on Monday and could return. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who sat out last week with a knee injury, could also return.

Whoever is on the field, they will be the players Tomlin believes gives the team the best chance to win now. He will not play rookies or backups just to give them experience. That's now how the Steelers do things.

''I am always in continual evaluation of the talent,'' he said. ''And I also put preparing and winning this week at a premium.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group