The Steelers will try to stop the player who Mike Tomlin calls the best wide receiver in the game on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but he might have to do it without several of his defensive players.
Tomlin said two injured starters -- linebacker LaMarr Woodley (left calf) and guard Ramon Foster (right ankle) -- will be limited in practice early in the week but could play against the Lions, who lead the NFC North with a 6-3 record.
Foster has a grade 1 high-ankle sprain, an injury that typically sidelines a player a minimum two weeks.
Tomlin revisits Buffalo win, looks ahead to Detroit
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin recaps the win over Buffalo and looks ahead to Sunday's game against Detroit. The PG's Ed Bouchette puts it all in context. (Video by Andrew Rush; 11/12/2013)
About Woodley, who leads the team with five sacks, Tomlin said, “We’ll see how that [injury] progresses and we’ll see how that affects his participation.”
Tomlin said rookie safety Shamarko Thomas (left ankle), who is the extra back in the dime defense, has a “significant” injury and will not play against the Lions.
They were injured in Sunday’s 23-10 victory against the Buffalo Bills.
Also, defensive end Brett Keisel has plantar fasciitis in his foot, but Tomlin said he expects him to play against the Lions.
Tomlin made the comments at his weekly televised news conference.
The Steelers biggest task this week will be preparing for Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, whom Tomlin called “the best wide receiver in the game” and compared to a young Randy Moss. Johnson has 53 catches, an NFC-high 904 yards receiving and nine touchdowns despite facing a myriad of coverages.
“All of that has been done,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to take our swing at it.”
Tomlin said he likes the energy that running back Jonathan Dwyer has brought to the offense in third-down situation. In the past two games, Dwyer has gained 94 yards on nine touches, in addition to converting three third downs with runs of 6, 2 and 8 yards against the Bills.
Dwyer was cut in training camp, despite being the team’s leading rusher in 2012, but has come back to be a productive player who has gained Tomlin’s support
“I would imagine unemployment does that,” Tomlin said.
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com; twitter: @gerrydulac