Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams is carted off with an ankle injury in the first half Sunday against the Browns.
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams will miss the AFC wild card game against the Bengals because of the right foot injury he sustained in the regular-season finale against Cleveland. Fitzgerald Toussaint, a second-year player out of the University of Michigan, will start in his place.
Williams, who did not practice all week, was ruled out Friday after the Steelers practiced for the final time before departing for Cincinnati. The hope is for Williams to be available if the Steelers advance past the Bengals and meet the Broncos in Denver next Sunday.
The Bengals will be without starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who was also ruled out Friday with a thumb injury. Backup AJ McCarron, who was 2-1 as a starter over the final three games of the regular season, will start in his place. The Bengals also will be without tight end Ryan Hewitt, who has a knee injury.
Toussaint, who was active on game days for only the final five games of the season, has never started an NFL game. He said Williams has been a strong influence on him all week and expects that will continue through game day.
“He’s going to stay in my ear and do the things he’s been doing all year,” Toussaint said. “And I’m going to listen to him.”
Jordan Todman, a five-year veteran who has 472 career rushing yards, will serve as Toussaint’s backup.
“They’re both pretty well-rounded guys,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “[Toussaint] is the guy, but we have to make sure we give him a physical and mental break here and there throughout the game. Todman is a guy who’s been around. He’s been active some games. He’s been in all the meetings, all the practices. Between both guys comfort level is good.”
Fullback Will Johnson doesn’t expect much to change with the offense. For last year’s playoff game against the Ravens when Le’Veon Bell could not play the Steelers started Ben Tate, who signed with the team four days before the game.
“I think we run the same stuff,” Johnson said. “The difference from last year is Fitz is ready to play. He’s played in games this year. He’s earned the confidence and trust in his coaches and teammates.”
Toussaint spent the first 10 weeks of the season on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster when Le’Veon Bell was lost for the season with a knee injury. He has 42 yards on 18 carries this season, including 24 yards on 12 carries last week when he played the final three quarters after Williams was injured.
NOTE: Receiver Antonio Brown and right guard David DeCastro were named first-team All-Pro Friday. Brown earned first-team All-Pro honors for the second consecutive season. He was second-team All-Pro in 2013. DeCastro was named first-team All-Pro for the first time in his four-year career.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.
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