Steelers look to get back to business at Cincinnati
Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph is hoping for a much less eventful time on the football field when the Steelers visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Rudolph is attempting to move on from the Nov. 14 incident in which he was conked on the head with his own helmet by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
The skirmish led to an indefinite suspension for Garrett, a three-game suspension for Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and a one-game penalty for Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. Plenty of Browns felt Rudolph was the instigator and also should have been disciplined. Rudolph addressed the situation Wednesday and said he lost his cool.
"For my involvement last week, there's no acceptable excuse," Rudolph told reporters. "The bottom line is I should have done a better job keeping my composure in that situation. And it falls short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and member of the NFL." Rudolph, who threw four interceptions against the Browns, and the Steelers (5-5) will look to get back on track after the 21-7 loss to Cleveland halted a four-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh finishes the regular season with four of six games on the road, with downtrodden Cincinnati (0-10) first on the slate. Rudolph completed a stellar 24 of 28 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns when Pittsburgh notched a 27-3 home win over the Bengals on Sept. 30.
Top target JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss the rematch due to a concussion and knee injury. The team leader with 38 receptions and 524 yards has just eight catches for 81 yards over the past three games. The running back situation is also dicey with James Conner (team-best 390 rushing yards) out after re-injuring his shoulder against the Browns.
Benny Snell, who has 118 rushing yards, returned to practice Wednesday after missing three games with a knee injury. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is interested in seeing the rookie fourth-round pick receive a lot of work. "We'll get him on the field and see what he looks like," Tomlin told reporters. "Not only in terms of his health, but a young guy like him who has missed a block of time, we'll be focused on his ability to execute and execute in great detail. And so he's got a two-pronged thing he has to answer -- not only health but game readiness from a detail and knowledge standpoint, which is a reasonable process for a young guy."
The Bengals haven't seen seven-time Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green (ankle) on the field this season, and it isn't happening Sunday either after coach Zac Taylor ruled him out Friday. "It is difficult with any player, especially a player that hasn't played in a long time," Taylor told reporters. "You want to make sure they get the reps and get a feel for the game plan."
Cincinnati recently benched veteran quarterback Andy Dalton in favor of rookie Ryan Finley, and the passing attack is suffering. Finley, a fourth-round pick, has completed just 47.5 percent of his passes for 282 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in two starts. His longest pass play gained only 24 yards.
Finley was just 13 of 31 for 115 yards and a pick last week in Cincinnati's 17-10 setback to the Oakland Raiders. Leading receiver Tyler Boyd (58 receptions, 598 yards) had just one catch for 0 yards and expressed his dissatisfaction about being targeted a season-low three times. "I feel like I'm the go-to guy with A.J. down," Boyd told reporters. "I felt like my targets were not where they should have been. I feel that I'm a game-changer and I could have utilized my talents in any way to move the chains, and nothing was coming my way."
Taylor was peppered with questions about Finley's status, including whether his starting position was safe. "I know everyone wants to nitpick his last performance, but I continue to see growth from him, and everyone around him needs to step up and do a better job as well," Taylor said. "A lot of things get pointed at the quarterback. We kind of said the same things about Andy as the season was going. Everyone else has to do their job as well."
Pittsburgh has won its past nine meetings with Cincinnati, including a January 2016 playoff game.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)