PITTSBURGH (AP) — For the first time in his six-year head coaching career, Mike Tomlin will go into a game with his team already eliminated from playoff contention.
Tomlin insists he isn't going to treat the week of preparation any differently.
A day after his Pittsburgh Steelers were knocked out of the postseason race with a loss to Cincinnati, Tomlin vowed that injuries would be the only factor dictating lineup changes for the regular-season finale Sunday.
Don't look for an abundance of younger players auditioning for 2013 jobs.
"This is an opportunity to play and play to win, to get this sour taste out of our mouth," Tomlin said. "I am not going to approach it with that (look-ahead to 2013) mentality."
Among those who won't play for the Steelers (7-8) against the Cleveland Browns (5-10) is tight end Heath Miller, who sustained multiple torn ligaments in his right knee during the loss to the Bengals.
Miller, a prime candidate for the Pro Bowl and team MVP, has torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments as well as a possible tear in his posterior cruciate ligament.
Typical recovery time would extend well into next season's training camp. Just this past year, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, offensive tackle Max Starks and nose tackle Casey Hampton began camp on the physically unable to perform list after sustaining torn ACLs over the first eight days of January.
"I think we need to let the dust settle to know exactly what it is we're dealing with before we start framing his recovery or his rate of recovery," Tomlin said.
"He's been rock-solid for us, and we really appreciate his efforts."