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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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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

As the calendar turns toward spring, one thing consumes the NFL: mock drafts. Leading up to the NFL Draft on April 25, many will try to predict which players each of the 32 teams will select. Though no one will know for sure until the names are called, it's still interesting to see what potential directions teams might go in.

Let's take a look at what some people believe the Redskins will do with their first round pick.

ESPN's Mel Kiper's NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) Kiper currently has Washington taking a quarterback in the first-round, but maybe not the one people were expecting. While Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are viewed as first-round locks by many, the Missouri product's placement in the draft is not as certain. In this scenario, Kiper has Murray and Haskins off the board before Washington gets on the clock, making Lock the best available passer remaining. In his senior seaosn, Lock finished with 3,498 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.

CBS Sports' R.J. White: Devin White (ILB, LSU) Not a quarterback here. White has the Redskins using a pick on the junior linebacker. With questions surrounding what will happen with Zach Brown as well as pass-rushing linebacker Preston Smith, White could fill a need for the Redskins. 

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) The Redskins take a passer in both of these mocks as well, just a different one. Jones, the junior from Duke, slides in at No. 15 behind both Murray and Haskins. However, Wilson also has Lock going before the Redskins pick, while Trapasso has him falling to No. 28. 

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) More Jones here for the Redskins. The passer, who threw for 22 touchdowns in 2018, is the fourth quarterback off the board in this mock draft as Haskins, Murray and Lock all go in the top 10. 

USA Today's Luke Easterling: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Starting to see a theme here? Not only does this mock draft have the Redskins selecting Jones, but it has them moving up to No. 12 to make the selection. Easterling describes Jones as, "a raw but promising passer." 

NFL Analyst Charley Casserly: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Describing him as a passer with "excellent field vision, anticipation and accuracy," Casserly likes Jones in Washington.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig: Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi St.) As mentioned earlier, Preston Smith's time with the burgundy and gold could be coming to an end. Sweat, who recorded 11.5 sacks last season, impressed at the Senior Bowl and could make an impact from Day 1. While many see the Redskins taking a quarterback, Standig sees inside linebacker as a priority

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Manny Machado to the Padres is not a problem for one young Yankees fan

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Manny Machado to the Padres is not a problem for one young Yankees fan

On Tuesday, reports broke that prized free agent Manny Machado would be signing a record-breaking contract with the San Diego Padres. With the last few months playing out like a never-ending soap opera between Machado and his potential suitors, it's no surprise the news created a lot of buzz and numerous reactions from all types of baseball fans.

One of the best came from a young New York Yankees fan, who learned of Machado's decision while in Florida to watch his team during Spring Training. SNY was on the scene to catch his live reaction, and from it we received a beautiful viral video.

Dissecting this video, there are two important aspects: the passion and the actual take.

Passion-wise, this kid gets a 10/10. Has he most likely used 27 rings to try and win an argument before? Probably. But, he delivered his monologue with a fire that will most likely earn him a spot on a sports talk show in the years to come. In the heat of the moment, you have to respect his ability to construct an argument in defense of his team.

As for the take, it has its flaws. It's a struggle to really defend the idea that you wouldn't want a once-in-a-generation type player just because he played on a team in your division, especially when that team floated around 50 wins last season.

I can sort of understand not wanting Mookie Betts considering he plays for their biggest rival, but even that sounds crazy when you really think about it. With the likes of Johnny Damon and Babe Ruth coming from Boston to New York, it's hard to fully support this argument.

The kid also concluded by saying it's like Tom Brady going to the Dolphins. At this point, I think Miami would be more than happy to take Brady off the Patriots' hands.

Yet whether you agree or disagree with what was said, we can all appreciate the passion this young man shows. Now we'd like to see his thoughts on Bryce Harper. 

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