By Christina Rivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently outside of the playoff picture, looking for a win against the Cleveland Browns in their final regular season game in 2015. All season, the Steelers have dealt with injuries and made personnel adjustments as needed. With the flu bug going around this week, several players on Pittsburgh’s roster missed time away from practice. There were some adjustments to the active roster as well, leading into Sunday’s game in Cleveland.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ill on Wednesday, but returned on Thursday. Roethlisberger admitted that he felt it was likely that there was a something going around; James Harrison and Martavis Bryant took Wednesday off for similar reasons. Offensive lineman Ramon Foster was able to remain in practice, but expressed he’d been fighting a “nasty head cold.” Bryant is the only one of four not expected to be 100 percent available to play Sunday.

Cornerback Antwon Blake has not missed a game yet this season, but continues to deal with a back injury. On Thursday, Blake called the issue “more of a sprain” he sustained during the Week 16 game against the Baltimore Ravens. He was listed as probable for Week 17.

Several players took veteran days this week, but cornerback Doran Grant has been dealing with a groin injury that makes his availability questionable. Safety Mike Mitchell continues to struggle with a sore shoulder, but is probable to start against the Browns.

To bolster the Steelers’ defensive secondary, the team promoted Ross Ventrone to the active roster on Friday. Ventrone was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad on December 29, after playing in five games with Pittsburgh before being released on October 13. To make room, the Steelers released receiver and kick specialist Jacoby Jones.

On the 28th, the Steelers placed fullback Roosevelt Nix on the injured-reserved list and added linebacker L.J. Fort to the active roster.

The Steelers have struggled in road games this season, losing four of seven games away from Heinz Field. “We have to find a way to take our show on the road; play better on the road,” receiver Antonio Brown said earlier this week. “We know how hard it is going on the road in (a) difficult environment. If we want to be the team we desire to be, we have to win on the road.” A win ensures the Steelers don’t have a losing regular-season record.

Browns head coach Mike Pettine, a man on a hot seat with only three wins this season, said his team is fully aware of how dangerous the Steelers offense can be. “You’re looking at a group of skill players that are as explosive as any in the league. I think [signing DeAngelo Williams] was one of the signings of the year for the Steelers, as he’s playing at a very high level. I think Antonio Brown should be in consideration for not just the best receiver in football, but for MVP. He’s having that kind of special year. Whatever they’re doing offensively from a tempo standpoint, it really puts a lot of stress on you.”

Fantasy Outlook

After busting many fantasy leagues last week with poor overall performance, Roethlisberger and Brown look to bounce back this week and are viable starters in nearly any league. Williams is a positive start at running back for Sunday as well. The jury is out on the Steelers defense after they have been porous off and on all season.

Injury Recap

Questionable

WR Martavis Bryant (Illness)
CB Doran Grant (Groin)

Probable

S Will Allen (Not Injury Related)
CB Antwon Blake (Back)
CB William Gay (Not Injury Related)
LB James Harrison (Illness)
TE Heath Miller (Not Injury Related)
S Mike Mitchell (Shoulder)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (Illness)
LB Ryan Shazier (Not Injury Related)
TE Matt Spaeth (Not Injury Related)

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.