“I assure you there are going to be some,’’ Tomlin said yesterday, calling the 6-6 Steelers “a very average team . . . and our recent record might indicate that’s a kind assessment.’’
Rookie cornerback Joe Burnett is expected to start for the oft-beaten William Gay, who sustained a concussion late in the Steelers’ can-you-believe-it 27-24 loss to the Raiders Sunday. Gay might not play in Cleveland.
Another rookie cornerback, Keenan Lewis, plus defensive end Ziggy Hood and wide receiver Mike Wallace, also might earn elevated status for the Browns (1-11). Wallace is expected to start if Hines Ward (hamstring) can’t go, which seems likely given the short week.
“We can’t stay status quo in terms of how we’re approaching this and expect the pattern of behavior or outcome to change,’’ Tomlin said. “That’s unrealistic. That’s hoping. This is not a hope business.’’
Coming off a 34-7 loss to the Eagles Sunday, Falcons coach Mike Smith
said he hopes quarterback Matt Ryan
and other injured starters can return this week to face the undefeated Saints. Ryan wore street clothes and protected his turf toe injury by wearing a walking boot on the sideline Sunday. The boot sat empty at Ryan’s locker yesterday. The QB wasn’t available for interviews, but Smith said he hopes Ryan, who hurt his right big toe two weeks ago, will participate in the team’s first practice of the week tomorrow . . . The Jets’ Mark Sanchez
did not practice while recovering from a sprained right knee, but coach Rex Ryan
is optimistic about the rookie QB’s chances of playing Sunday at Tampa Bay. Sanchez sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in the knee while diving for a first down in New York’s 19-13 win over Buffalo Thursday night. “He’s so much better,’’ Ryan said. “We thought we were going to get good news from the MRI, we did. Just the way he’s approaching his treatment and rehab and everything else, you can tell he is definitely willing. That’s for sure.’’ Ryan was uncertain whether Sanchez would participate in the team’s next practice tomorrow . . . Texans signal-caller Matt Schaub
could play Sunday against the Seahawks despite dislocating his non-throwing shoulder Sunday. Coach Gary Kubiak
says Schaub has “good chance’’ of playing this weekend. He was injured on the first play of a loss to the Jaguars but returned in the second quarter and finished the game . . . Seahawks veteran Matt Hasselbeck
’s sore shoulder may cost him some practice time but not the team’s game Sunday. Seattle coach Jim Mora
said his three-time Pro Bowler is OK after a hit on a scramble Sunday against the 49ers. Hasselbeck’s shoulder had been sore for weeks before the hit. He finished the game and led the winning drive in the final seconds before getting extensive ice treatment afterward . . . One day after rookie Matt Stafford
left Detroit’s game against Cincinnati with an aggravation of his separated left (non-throwing) shoulder, Lions coach Jim Schwartz
wasn’t giving any hints to his availability for Sunday’s game in Baltimore. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of his status, but I don’t feel any need to tell Baltimore that information,’’ Schwartz said.