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Steelers planning on business as usual vs. Giants

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Steelers planning on business as usual vs. Giants

PITTSBURGH (AP) Mike Tomlin is too preoccupied with finding ways to stop Eli Manning to worry whether the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy will affect Sunday's game in New York against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants.

``I'm simply focused on the things that are in our control,'' the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said Tuesday.

The weather not being among the items under Tomlin's domain. The massive storm brought record flooding and knocked out power to millions throughout the Northeast on Monday night, though even with the cleanup just getting under way the Steelers anticipate there being no changes to Sunday's scheduled 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

``We're going to proceed with the plans and continue to do so until we hear otherwise,'' Tomlin said.

Pittsburgh's preparation will not include safety Troy Polamalu, who will miss his fourth straight game and sixth overall this season due to a strained right calf. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will also sit out while recovering from a right ankle injury.

The status of safety Ryan Clark and linebacker LaMarr Woodley is a bit more optimistic. Clark left last week's 27-12 win over Washington after sustaining a concussion in the third quarter while Woodley's right hamstring tightened up late in the game.

Tomlin said Clark's status hasn't changed since Sunday but he will be monitored throughout the week before a decision is made. Woodley will be limited early in the week, as will Jonathan Dwyer.

The third-year running back is coming off consecutive 100-yard performances but left the Washington game in the final minutes with a right quad injury. Dwyer will not practice on Wednesday but Tomlin expects Dwyer to participate at some point this week.

Running backs Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) have both missed the last two games, though there's a chance each could return in New York. Mendenhall will begin individual workouts on Wednesday while Redman should be in pads.

Though the Steelers (4-3) have won two straight to climb back into the mix in the muddled AFC, Tomlin refuses to get ahead of himself, saying only his club is heading in the right direction.

Pittsburgh certainly looked impressive while stomping the Redskins, hardly resembling the unit that stumbled in early season road losses to Oakland and Tennessee.

``Obviously, we didn't get off to a great start,'' he said. ``The last couple of weeks, we've taken steps to rectify that.''

A couple of late defensive stops and Pittsburgh could be 6-1. They're not, and Tomlin is hardly in the mood to think about where the Steelers could be. He'd prefer to focus on where they are.

``We're 4-3,'' he said. ``Not only offensively, but defensively and from the special teams standpoint. I'd like to think that we're a group on the rise and one that's gelling and coming together and solidifying a personality.''

While the Steelers have kept opponents in check, they're not exactly producing the kind of splash defensive plays that have defined coordinator Dick LeBeau's second tenure. Pittsburgh is next-to-last in the NFL in takeaways (seven) and is 24th in the league in sacks with 12.

Still, they are second behind San Francisco in yards allowed (274.1), a byproduct of good tackling and an offense that tends to stay on the field for long stretches of time. The Steelers trail only Houston in time of possession, holding onto the ball more than 34 minutes a game.

``I've always said I'm at my best when I'm sitting on the bench,'' defensive end Brett Keisel said. ``I've got no problem sitting there and watching the offense work.''

Besides, Pittsburgh believes the big plays will eventually come. Polamalu remains sidelined indefinitely but is expected to return at some point. Linebacker James Harrison continues to round into shape after lingering knee issues kept him out of the lineup for all of training camp and the first month of the season.

``He's getting better and this is a guy that had no preseason work in training camp and so forth,'' Tomlin said. ``I think he's getting better with every snap.''

Notes: Tomlin said the team hasn't made a decision on how to proceed with rookie NT Alameda Ta'amu, who was reinstated to the team on Monday after serving a two-week suspension. Ta'amu still faces more than a dozen charges - including several felonies - following a run-in with police on Oct. 14. The team has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to make a roster move ... Tomlin called WR Antonio Brown's 15-yard taunting penalty during a punt return against the Redskins ``not respectable.'' Brown ran the final 20 yards to the end zone backward while jawing at a Washington defender, though the play was called back due to an illegal block.

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NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

When asked if his family had a motto, De'Andre Hunter summed it up in two words: "Family first."

"We have a great bond, we're really close and we all get along. I feel like that really helped me in the long run," the 2019 NBA Draft prospect told NBC Sports Washington for its miniseries I Am The Prospect. "We know we have each other's back, we always put each other before anyone else."

The Hunter family has always had De'Andre's back, supporting him from the days during his childhood when he'd wake them up early in the morning to play basketball, to the night he helped Virginia win its first NCAA title.

Things weren't always easy in the Hunter household. De'Andre's father, Aaron Hunter Sr., died when De'Andre was 7, forcing the entire family, especially his mother Priscilla, to take on more responsibility and bond together. 

"My mom is the rock of the family. She does anything for every single one of us. No matter where she is or what she's doing, she's willing to help us in any kind of way," Hunter said. "And as far as my brother and sisters, they're the same way. They're really caring, and we ... really look after each other. 

"In a family that's what you need, and we just always support each other, no matter what the circumstance is."

And as he grew up, De'Andre's older brother Aaron Jr. took on a more paternal role. 

"Once my father passed away, he really stepped up," De'Andre said of Aaron. "He really taught me a lot of things that he went through. I didn't see him grow up, but I saw him become, I feel like, a man in some sense. Because he had to take care of our family in a certain way.

"He cares for me a lot, so I thank him a lot for everything he's taught me."

In fact, it was Aaron who De'Andre called upon when he got the disappointing news he would be redshirted his first year at UVA and thus ineligible to play that season.  

"The decision to redshirt really hurt," Hunter said. "I didn't see it coming, but when coach (Tony Bennett) told me, I just took it."

"I told my brother, I probably complained to him a little bit but he just told me to use it in a beneficial way and don’t look at it in a negative way. I tried to do that, and I feel like in the long run it definitely helped me.

Over those next two seasons in Charlottesville, Hunter became a bonafide college star. He won the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2017-18 season then earned the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018-19, not to mention leading the Cavaliers to a national championship, scoring a team-high 27 points in the title game against Texas Tech.

Hunter recalled how special it was having his family in the arena that night to celebrate with him. 

"It meant a lot for them to come all the way out to Minnesota to watch me play," he said. "They took off from work, took off from things they probably had to do, just to come see me play. That means a lot to me because they really don't have to do that. But they were there for me." 

Now, Hunter is preparing to take the next step into the NBA ranks. And when his name's called Thursday night at the draft, his family will be there cheering -- and probably crying -- for him. 

"Draft night's gonna be really emotional. I don't know if I'm gonna cry or not, but I know a few members of my family will be crying, so that'll probably get to me a little bit," Hunter said with a smile. "It's gonna be a great moment for not only me but for my family as well."

"My mom's for sure gonna cry. My sisters might even cry, but I feel like Aaron might let a few tears out."

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram ranked No. 2 in NFL for 'best rushing tandems'

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram ranked No. 2 in NFL for 'best rushing tandems'

Kick off your Thursday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram were ranked No. 2 in Pro Football Focus' 'best rushing tandems ahead of the 2019 NFL season.' Ravens fans are excited to see Jackson and Ingram work together on the field this season.

2. The Ravens are looking for help at left guard and with 2017 fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor not getting many reps in, Coach Harbaugh put Eluemunor in the left guard spot. Although Harbaugh said Eluemunor will need to get in better shape, he acknowledged Eluemunor's work at left guard.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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