The Steelers' training room these days looks like the supermarket deli. Take a ticket and wait your turn. "Next!"
Just as some players heal and are ready to return, more have reservations. One is tight end Heath Miller, who left the win against Washington for good in the first half Monday with a high right ankle sprain and is doubtful for Sunday against Indianapolis .
Coach Mike Tomlin said free safety Ryan Clark, out with a dislocated shoulder, will return this week as will special teams player/linebacker Keyaron Fox. The rest he described as "bumps and bruises" that should not keep anyone out of the lineup Sunday, but that group won't include cornerback Bryant McFadden, who will miss the game because of a broken right arm. Tomlin also said he could not determine the status of tackle Marvel Smith, who missed the past three weeks with back spasms that have lingered longer than expected.
"You can say that, but that is how it is when you deal with backs. It is somewhat unpredictable, and we acknowledge and accept that."
Tomlin exploded in anger on the sideline Monday night when linebacker James Farrior was penalized for roughing the passer, specifically for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Washington quarterback Jason Campbell. He obviously did not agree with the call.
"I didn't, and that is why I responded the way I responded," Tomlin said. "I am going to defend our players because they play hard and they play the game the way it is supposed to be played. When I err, I am going to err on the side of defending them. I don't apologize for that. I understand those guys have a tough job to. We all do. Emotions are a part of it. That was a critical play in the game that could potentially close the door on the game on a fourth-down play. "
Tomlin will coach across the field Sunday for the first time against the man who gave him his first job in the NFL, Tony Dungy.
"One thing that I do know about coach, and I have a great deal of respect for him, is that his track record speaks for itself," Tomlin said. "This is a guy that has won over 70 percent of his games on the road since he has been in Indianapolis; that is what is motivating me this morning in regards to coach."