When the Steelers were 2-6, it was hard to imagine that they would enter their Thanksgiving Day game against the Ravens with much to play for outside of draft positioning.
Three straight wins and the overall mediocrity of the AFC have conspired to put them back in the mix for a playoff spot, however, and they’ll travel to Baltimore for what could turn out to be a de facto elimination game with the 5-6 Ravens. The Steelers will be down a couple of defensive players for the game, however.
Coach Mike Tomlin announced at his Monday press conference that nose tackle Steve McLendon will miss the game with a sprained right ankle. It’s a blow to the Steelers’ run defense as they’ll now turn to Ziggy Hood, Al Woods and/or Loni Fangupo in the middle of a line that’s been without defensive end Brett Keisel in the last two weeks. Tomlin said he wasn’t ruling Keisel, who has a foot injury, out of this week’s game.
The same goes for linebacker LaMarr Woodley and safety Shamarko Thomas, who have missed the last two weeks with calf and ankle injuries respectively. Cornerback Curtis Brown won’t be in the lineup, though. The reserve defender and special teamer will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL.