By Danny Cox
Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast and northeastern portion of the United States over the past few days, and millions were affected by its wrath. This weekend though, football will go on.
While concerned for all those that have suffered from the storm, the Pittsburgh Steelers have their focus on Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Coach Mike Tomlin is ready to take on the defending world champions, and needs to keep his team set on the game.
“I’m simply focused on the things that are in our control,” the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said Tuesday.
When he speaks of things that are in their control, he doesn’t just mean the storm and all the damage it brought, but more on that later. For now, there is no word that the game’s Sunday afternoon kickoff will be altered even though electricity is out in countless areas.
“We’re going to proceed with the plans and continue to do so until we hear otherwise,” Tomlin said.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the other thing Mike Tomlin and the Steelers can’t control is the issue they’ve been dealing with all season, and that’s injuries. Once again, Pittsburgh has some big-time names on the injury list and it is going to severely alter their game plan.
The biggest loss for Pittsburgh will be that of safety Troy Polamalu who will miss his third game in a row and fifth overall this season. Polamalu’s problem is still that with his strained calf.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will be out again and has missed significant time this season due to a right ankle injury.
Running backs Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall have both missed the last two games with ankle and Achilles injuries respectively. There is hope that both will return this weekend against the Giants, but nothing is confirmed yet.
Jonathan Dwyer, another Steelers running back, will be limited in practice this week as well as he recovers from some bumps and bruises.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (right hamstring) and safety Ryan Clark (concussion) are also on the “hopeful” list of returns this week for Pittsburgh. It is expected that the team will have both men back for the Giants’ game, and they will be needed. That is especially true for Clark who would definitely be needed with Polamalu out.
Things have finally started to look up for Pittsburgh as they are in the AFC playoff hunt after winning two in a row to get their record up to 4-3. They need to have all healthy players playing to their utmost potential this weekend if they want to continue their win streak and defeat a strong New York team.
Pittsburgh isn’t exactly fantastic on the road though, and they know that the New York crowd will be very hostile and looking for a home team win after the tragic events of Hurricane Sandy.
The Steelers will need to continue to take advantage of the clock, as they are holding the ball offensively for more than 34 minutes per game. Keeping the football away from Eli Manning could be a big turning point in not only keeping them in the game, but allowing them a chance to win it.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Steelers news, see CBS Sports Pittsburgh.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.