Tomlin may bench some starters against Cleveland

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Mike Tomlin promised possible sweeping changes to the Steelers lineup for their next game in Cleveland Thursday night.

Enduring a four-game losing streak that has knocked his team to 6-6, Tomlin said there is an" undesirable pattern of behavior" in losing games in the fourth quarter and that he will take an "aggressive look at potential changes" in his lineup and his schemes.

Among the changes he noted is the likelihood that rookie cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis not only will play but could start against Cleveland and that veteran cornerback Ike Taylor possibly could lose his starting job.

A few changes will be necessary because it appears Hines Ward will not play because of a late-game hamstring injury from the Steelers' 27-24 loss to Oakland Sunday. That means Limas Sweed will move up on the depth chart and either he or rookie Mike Wallace will start Thursday. Tomlin also said they will sign a fourth wide receiver for the game -- they released veteran receiver Shaun McDonald Nov. 28.

Also, Troy Polamalu is likely to miss his fourth straight game with his knee injury and cornerback William Gay is being evaluated after he left Sunday's game with a concussion.

Tomlin said he expects defensive end Travis Kirschke to be available to play in Cleveland after he missed his fourth game in the past five with a calf injury.


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