By Inside Pittsburgh Sports
PITTSBURGH _The mood these days in the Steelers’ locker room reflects the team’s state of affairs.
“Gloomy,” tackle Willie Colon said.
A four-game losing streak and a 6-6 record is obviously reason for disappointment. So, too, is the announcement from coach Mike Tomlin that he may shake up the lineup.
But according to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it’s time to move past Sunday’s embarrassing 27-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders and start focusing on getting back on track.
“You know you see a lot of guys are bummed and down, but that’s not going to change things and give us a win against the Raiders. That’s behind us,” Roethlisberger said. “Of course, we can be mad and upset about it, but we have to look forward and that’s the Cleveland Browns.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a long tunnel and it’s a small light, but it’s still flickering down there.”
The Steelers will have to win the rest of their final four games in order to have a chance to land a wild-card playoff berth.
*** So how about these line-up changes that Tomlin promised?
Based on Tuesday’s practice, it’s hard to gauge what will happen because both starting cornerbacks _ Ike Taylor and William Gay _ took plenty of reps with the first-team defense.
It’s been theorized by the media that rookie Joe Burnett would start in place of Gay, who left Sunday’s game late in the fourth quarter with a concussion. But Gay practiced without any setbacks Tuesday.
Gay said he wants to play in Cleveland.
So did Taylor, who was burnt by Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy twice in the fourth quarter, including once in a 75-yard touchdown strike.
“It goes with the territory of being a cornerback,” Taylor said. “Stuff like that happens in his league.”
Burnett and fellow rookie corner Keenan Lewis both rotated with Taylor and Gay, and both expect to play against the Browns.
“I don’t know what Coach (Tomlin) has in store for us, but I’ll be ready,” Burnett said
***Due to what he perceives as a hamstring pull, wide receiver Hines Ward didn’t practice Tuesday. But he says he’s going to try and play against the Browns.
Tomlin called Ward “very questionable for this game,” but Ward said, “Don’t count me out.”
Ward said he’ll try to practice Wednesday. If he’s able to get through practice without any setbacks, he may try to play. But if he aggravates the injury, he’ll be downgraded.
“Hines will do what’s best for Hines, I’m sure,” Roethlisberger said.
If Ward can’t go, rookie Mike Wallace will likely make his first pro start. Limas Sweed would become the No. 3 receiver.
***In other injury news, safety Troy Polamalu missed another practice and won’t play in Cleveland.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “On one hand, I feel like I’m close to being able to get out there. But with the way I’m feeling, I don’t think I would be much of a help to the team.”
Running back Rashard Mendenhall was limited at practice with an ankle injury, but should be OK by Thursday night.
Also, quarterback Charlie Batch returned to practice and was listed as a full participant. Batch broke his wrist in the Nov. 22 loss in Kansas City.
***Kickoff for the Steelers game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, December 20 has been changed to a 4:15 start. The change was made as part of the NFL Flex Scheduling.