First, let’s talk about the Martavis Bryant situation. Bryant, who is coming back off a four-game suspension, has practiced sparingly this week.
That’s not a good sign for a young man who has missed the past month because of a suspension.
The team doesn’t have to disclose what kind of injury with which Bryant is dealing since he is not yet on the active roster and they don’t actually have to activate him for this game if they do not choose.
It’s looking more and more like that will be the case.
Mike Tomlin doesn’t like to play young players who don’t get at least a couple of practices in before a game. He’s not real likely to put Bryant in the lineup when he hasn’t practiced in a month.
That move also would give the Steelers another week with which to kick the can down the road in terms of making a roster move.
* Despite practicing all week, Ryan Shazier won’t play again this week. That will make 10 of a possible 21 games Shazier will have missed in his career.
He’s dealing with some weakness in his shoulder because of a pinched nerve. But it’s getting better.
Part of the reason the Steelers could be holding him is out is because they have plenty of inside linebacker depth. Sean Spence has played well in Shazier’s absence, as has Vince Williams.
* I don’t know that not having Bryant on the field will have a huge effect on this game. This will be a run, run, run game.
San Diego is allowing 4.9 yards per carry this season, tied with New England for the worst in the league.
And Le’Veon Bell just ran for 129 yards against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 games and against whom the STeelers hadn’t had a 100-yard rusher since 2004.
The Steelers will take some shots down the field to keep the Chargers honest and they’ll try to get the ball to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller a little more.
But this will be Le’Veon Bell’s game to win or lose. I just don’t see how the Chargers are going to stop him and with a week under his belt, I expect Mike Vick to be much more comfortable running the offense this time out.
San Diego also has some issues at wide receiver. Malcom Floyd is expected to play despite leaving last week’s game with a concussion, while Stevie Johnson looks as if he’ll be out.
Antonio Gates will be back after a four-game PED suspension, but there’s the difference between the suspension of Gates and that of Bryant.
While players suspended for illegal drugs are permitted contact with their team and can work out at team facilities, those who are suspended for PED use are not.
Gates is a veteran player, but it’s not real likely he’s completely up to speed after sitting out an entire month and having no contact with the Chargers.
The Chargers are 3 1/2-point favorites in this game, but I don’t see that happening.
I think the Steelers dominate the game with their rushing attack, get after Rivers and protect Vick enough to be effective - the Chargers have just five sacks this season.
I’ll take the Steelers to win, 24-20.