By Christina Rivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter their Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday in relatively good health. Over the course of the week, only a handful of players saw limited time at practice. Having a full depth chart will be a benefit as the team heads into their last six games of the 2015 NFL regular season and the level of competition for spots in the playoffs heats up.

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On offense, the only player that was a question mark for Pittsburgh was tight end Matt Spaeth. Spaeth, coming off of a hand/wrist injury is suffering from a knee injury sustained prior to the bye week. He missed practice on Monday and was limited on Thursday, but participated fully on Wednesday making it appear that the extra work may have aggravated the knee.

As for defense, the Steelers worked around a lot of knee injuries to linebackers Terence Garvin, Ryan Shazier, and James Harrison, as well as safety Shamarko Thomas. Cornerback Brandon Boykin has been nursing a sore ankle, too. Garvin, Harrison, and Thomas look ready to go on Sunday, with Shazier likely to be in the lineup as well even though he had a day off on Thursday. Boykin, who has seen very little time with the defense this season, may be a late scratch in favor of playing healthier defensive backs, but is listed as ‘probable’.

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DeAngelo Williams lovingly was nicknamed “Uncle Snoop Dog” by his fellow running backs, Isaiah Pead and Jordan Todman, indicating that Williams has earned the respect of his teammates. Williams is expected to carry the load in the run game, but he complimented Pead and Todman for catching up during the bye week if he were to need a breather from the field. “We are on a six-game stretch and hopefully headed to the playoffs,” said Pead this week, “and we are ready to get in there and do whatever we can to help.”

Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that one of the keys to success for the team was allowing as many players to get repetitions in practice. Comfort in understanding the offense has increased for Pead and Todman. “It’s time,” Todman said. “I feel very comfortable going in and giving (Williams) spells. When he needs that time, hopefully my number is called…I am ready to get called on Sunday and ready to perform.” Unless Williams were to have serious struggles, it’s unlikely either Pead or Todman will see a ton of time on the field, but it is a positive step to have them available.

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Two players the Steelers are focused on that will be cheered on by the rowdy ’12th man’ in Seattle are quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman. Both men are respected for their high level of competitiveness. “(Wilson) tries to put his team in the best situations possible,” said safety Robert Golden, “so he always tries to extend plays and do whatever he has to do to win downs. We have to do whatever we can to contain him.”

Linebacker Arthur Moats pointed out that Wilson is able to be creative and improvise on offense, especially when the pocket collapses. “(Wilson) is able to create with his legs,” said Moats, “but at the same time make smart decisions.” Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that he will be keeping an eye on where Sherman is located on the field on Sunday. “I’m not going to throw every single pass at him, but I have a lot of respect for him as a football player,” Roethlisberger admitted. “It’s going to be a big test for myself and for Antonio Brown and whoever else he’s covering.” Tomlin called Sherman “combative” and it is likely that he will offer a physical complication to Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Martavis Bryant down the field. “That is what makes the NFL so much fun,” said Brown. “You have great wide receivers and great corners competing against each other. It makes it exciting to watch.” On Sunday, the Steelers will get up close and personal to that show.

Injury Recap

Probable
Brandon Boykin (CB, ankle)
Shamarko Thomas (S, knee)
Terence Garvin (LB, knee)
James Harrison (LB, knee)

Questionable
Matt Spaeth (TE, knee)
Ryan Shazier (LB, knee)

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Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a journalist and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied Exercise Physiology and Sports Psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL as well as a published author. Her work can be found on
Examiner.com.