Redskins

Steelers CB Ike Taylor to miss 3rd straight game

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Steelers CB Ike Taylor to miss 3rd straight game

PITTSBURGH (AP) The boot is off Ike Taylor's fractured ankle.

It's still too soon, however, for the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback to slip his cleats back on.

Taylor will miss his third straight game on Sunday when the Steelers (7-7) try to revive their postseason hopes against Cincinnati (8-6) in a game that will likely define the season of both teams.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he's encouraged by Taylor's progress but that Pittsburgh's secondary will have to find a way to defend Cincinnati's deep group of receivers without its best cornerback.

The Steelers won't have one of their fastest cornerbacks either after fill-in DeMarcus Van Dyke was placed on the injured reserve after injuring his shoulder in Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss in Dallas. Pittsburgh signed veteran free agent Justin King to provide depth, but it will be largely up to Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen and Josh Victorian to slow down Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton and second-year receiver A.J. Green.

Victorian, a practice squad player, was pressed into service against the Cowboys and endured a difficult afternoon. Then again, he was hardly alone as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo lit up the Steelers for 341 yards passing and two scores in a rare off day for the league's top pass defense.

Tomlin praised Victorian's effort but knows things are unlikely to get easier while facing one of the best young offenses in the NFL.

``We are going to have our hands full,'' Tomlin said.

The Steelers won the first meeting with the Bengals 24-17 on Oct. 21, holding Dalton to 14 of 28 passing for a season-low 105 yards. The victory kickstarted a four-game winning streak that appeared to put to rest any concerns about Pittsburgh's slow 2-3 start.

A shoulder injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a handful of critical mistakes have pushed the Steelers to the fringe of the playoff race. Pittsburgh has dropped four of five - including two straight since Roethlisberger's return - but have a direct path to the postseason. Wins over the Bengals and Cleveland (5-9) and the Steelers will play into January.

Even if, at the moment, it hardly feels like it.

Pittsburgh appeared to stir the echoes of 2005 after winning in Baltimore on Dec. 2. The players talked openly about going on a playoff run the way they did seven years ago, when the Steelers squeaked into the playoffs then won three games on the road en route to the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title.

The last two weeks, however, look a lot more like 2009. The Steelers were 6-2 at the season's midway point then collapsed down the stretch, enduring a five-game skid to miss the playoffs entirely.

Things aren't quite that bleak at the moment, and Tomlin did his best to quell any sense of unrest by Roethlisberger, who took blame for the loss in Dallas but also acknowledged some frustration about the successful but infrequent no-huddle offense.

Roethlisberger loves the no-huddle and pointed to how well the Steelers moved the ball against the Cowboys as proof it works. Tomlin downplayed the idea Roethlisberger was taking a shot at offensive coordinator Todd Haley in his comments.

``He's on board with what we're doing,'' Tomlin said of his quarterback.

Maybe, but the Steelers have gotten away from the formula that worked so well for them earlier in the year.

The short passing game that thrived in September and October has disappeared in November and December. Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich have completed just 55 percent (124 of 224) of passes during the team's last six games, down from nearly 70 percent (201 of 288) during the first half of the season.

The lack of any semblance of a running threat hasn't helped. Tomlin dropped the running back-by-committee approach three weeks ago, awarding the starting job to Jonathan Dwyer. The spark Dwyer provided earlier in the season hasn't materialized, though. Dwyer has just 101 yards over the three starts, but Tomlin doesn't appear to be in any hurry to change things up.

The Steelers reinstated running back Rashard Mendenhall from a one-game suspension on Monday for conduct detrimental to the team, but Tomlin said he's ``happy'' with the current situation and will let Mendenhall - who hasn't suited up since a loss to Cleveland on Nov. 25 - practice before determining whether he'll be involved.

Mendenhall isn't the only veteran who has spent most of the last month watching. The Steelers brought back wide receiver Plaxico Burress last month to give Roethlisberger a big target. Burress has just one catch in the two games he's been active.

Injuries in the secondary and along the offensive line have limited Pittsburgh's flexibility to incorporate Burress. And Tomlin is reluctant to give any specifics on when or even if Burress will play over the final two weeks.

``We'd like to include him in the plan,'' Tomlin said. ``Obviously, he has a skill set that we could utilize but all of those things are kind of interwoven as we put together and formulate a game plan.''

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NOTES: The Steelers placed LG Willie Colon on injured reserve with a knee injury, marking the third straight season Colon has ended the year on IR. The move freed up a spot for Mendenhall on the 53-man roster ... Tomlin plans to keep using Antonio Brown as a punt returner. Brown fumbled in the fourth quarter in Dallas, giving the Cowboys a chance to tie the game late ... RT Mike Adams (ankle) has been cleared to return to football activities.

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Derrius Guice out for Week 15 vs. Eagles as he awaits MRI results

Derrius Guice out for Week 15 vs. Eagles as he awaits MRI results

The injuries just keep coming for Derrius Guice.

The second-year running back will miss the Redskins Week 15 contest against Philadelphia after suffering a left knee injury against Green Bay, interim head coach Bill Callahan announced on Monday. The injury is on the same knee that Guice tore his ACL in just a year ago that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season.

The severity of the injury is still unclear. Guice underwent an MRI on his knee earlier on Monday. The team is still waiting for the results.

Guice missed eight weeks earlier this season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee during the Redskins Week 1 loss in Philadelphia. He was placed on injured reserve and returned in Week 11.

Entering Sunday's contest, Guice was coming off the best game of his young career. In Week 13, the second-year veteran ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries in the Redskins' victory over Carolina.

Guice seemed on his way to another big game in Green Bay before getting hurt. He finished with 42 yards on just five carries, including a 23-yard run, the play he suffered the injury on.

The LSU product has shown flashes of how good he can be, but injuries keep occurring for Guice. He's played in five NFL games in his two-year career and been forced to leave the game early in three of those.

Whether the injuries are just a series of bad luck or not, the Redskins need Guice to stay healthy.

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    Davey Martinez is unfazed by entering the third - and perhaps final - year of his contract

    Davey Martinez is unfazed by entering the third - and perhaps final - year of his contract

    SAN DIEGO -- Davey Martinez has been busy. His rural retreat, usually well-used by this stage of the offseason, has sat empty. He spent time with his kids in Tampa in between declining appearance requests. He tried to get his life back in order for the last five weeks. Time to himself has not been part of the process. Nor has anything but positive feelings.

    “It’s been awesome,” Martinez said. “Really has. Something that I wake up in the morning and think about everything that transpired and how we got to where we got to and the final moment... That, to me, never gets old.”

    Relaxed in a dress shirt and sport coat, Martinez started Monday with interviews by the reporters pool at the Winter Meetings. Two of his former players -- Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon -- are among the prime focuses of the event. Future contracts are what the meetings become about. Martinez is now included in that topic.

    He’s entering the third, and final, year of his three-year deal. The Nationals hold an option for a fourth year. Martinez said he is not thinking about it.

    “No,” Martinez said. “I really haven’t. For me, I feel blessed I got an opportunity to do what I do. I know I’m coming back. Now, I’m just getting some time off and getting ready for spring training.”

    Martinez entering his third year is notable. Managers of the Nationals rarely make it there. Manny Acta started a third season as manager. Davey Johnson handled two-plus seasons as manager. No one has made it through three full seasons since baseball returned to the District. And, who would have thought Martinez would?

    Year One was a mess. The Nationals missed the playoffs, Martinez appeared off-kilter at times, and injuries doomed the season as much as under-performance. A mere 82 wins followed, the fewest since 2011. 

    The pressure was high before the failed season. Washington’s ownership chose Martinez specifically over bringing back Dusty Baker. Why? Because advancing to the first round was not enough. Only the World Series was acceptable. Martinez, with vast major-league life experience and zero managerial experience, was charged with guiding the team to a spot its owners and payroll expected. The team barely won more than it lost.

    Then May of 2019 hit. The 19-31 nadir following multiple embarrassments in New York, against the Mets of all teams, pushed Martinez’s employment status toward the edge. He said then it wasn’t on his mind, though at the time he was unsure how to fix expansive bullpen problems. Managing principal owner Mark Lerner said during the postseason he never considered firing Martinez. Both are difficult to believe as 100% truths. 

    As the team turned, so did the view of Martinez. The postseason performed as a breakthrough for both. Washington finally made it out of the first round of the postseason. Martinez’s decision-making worked and worked again, all the way through Game 7 of the World Series. By the end, narratives flipped. The team which couldn’t play well when it mattered most completed a comeback-filled championship run. The manager so many wanted to push out, became a man of the people, drifting into the streets during the championship parade.

    Another year is coming. Davey Martinez remains the manager of the Washington Nationals. He’s into his third year and, barring disaster, appears set to make it to the end, which would be more history for the organization.

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