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Steelers Could Show Youthful Look Against Houston Texans

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) - Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted to some lineup changes this week as the Steelers are now 3-3 and hosting the Texans Monday night.

Tomlin said, "we're going to turn over all the stones to produce more play-making."

That could mean using 6-foot-4-inch rookie receiver Martavis Bryant in the red zone, adding rookie defensive lineman Daniel McCullers, who has yet to play in a game, and more playing time for rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt.

"Right now it's not sweeping or drastic changes as far as who and what we are schematically," Tomlin said. "I will look at who we utilize and where in all three phases."

"We've got to score when we put the ball in scoring position, and we haven't done it consistently enough and we better fix it."

The Steelers are sixth in the NFL in total offense, but 23rd in points per game and are converting only 37 percent of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns.

"We need to look critically at what we're doing," Tomlin said. "We need to look critically at who we're doing it with. We're open to all of those things this week. Those are some of the discussions we're going to have this week as we prepare for Houston."

And the changes might not all be due to injury as Tomlin was strong to point out that Brice McCain could get more time. "Not only (McCain's) play is deserving of consideration, but under the circumstances, because of some of the inconsistent play of others, he's under consideration for more playing time. And rightfully so."

Tomlin also said he needs to get more out of linebacker Jason Worilds because, "we're compensating him to be consistently impactful," referring to Worilds' $10 million salary this year.

Cowher-Hines Critical

Former head coach Bill Cowher and all-time Steelers leading receiver Hines Ward went on their respective national TV shows and said the Steelers were "soft," "finesse" and the Steelers were "close to hitting the panic button." Tuesday Tomlin said he takes their opinions with a grain of salt because they have a job to do.

"I don't worry about that," Tomlin said. "That's elevator music as far as I'm concerned. I'm concerned about the things that are significant and that's the men inside this organization right now and how they prepare and how they play. Love those guys, but those guys are on the outside looking in."


The only players ruled out of Monday's game are corner Ike Taylor (broken arm) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder). With McLendon out, rookie Stephon Tuitt could see is time increase as Cam Thomas may move to nose tackle. There is also the possibility of 6-foot-7-inch rookie Daniel McCullers playing his first game.

"With Steve out, that puts (McCullers) in play to be considered," said Tomlin. "He has worked hard. He's a young guy who has worked hard to develop his skills throughout the course of the work weeks here at the practice facility and has improved over the course of the last six weeks. We'll see if he gets an opportunity to ascend, but he's a strong candidate if Steve is unavailable."

Linebacker Ryan Shazier will practice some this week as will safety Shamarko Thomas and then the coaches will determine their availability. Brett Keisel and Mike Mitchell are questionable at this point. Cam Heyward is expected to be OK.

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