Two steps forward, one step back, that's how it goes when it comes to the Steelers' efforts to finally have their full collection of healthy running backs.
Coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly press conference Tuesday that the running backs who opened the season as the top two on the depth chart -- Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman -- are scheduled to practice Wednesday.
Neither has played in the last two games due to injury (Mendenhall with an Achilles; Redman an ankle sprain). In their stead, RB Jonathan Dwyer has shown small signs of being a breakout star.
Dwyer has 229 rushing yards and has had consecutive 100-yard games -- the first time that's happened since Willie Parker in 2008. But he emerged from Sunday's 27-12 victory against Washington with a right quad strain.
"He is tentatively scheduled not to practice [Wednesday]," Tomlin said. "He is being evaluated. Hopefully, Thursday will be a practice day for him."
Clark going through concussion testing: Tomlin said FS Ryan Clark must pass a round of testing before he is cleared to practice this week or play Sunday at the New York Giants. Clark sustained a concussion against the Redskins.
"We will continue to monitor him throughout the week," Tomlin said. "There are a battery of tests that he has to go through in order to get clearance, and rightfully so. We will proceed with that protocol tomorrow."
For his part, on Twitter @RealRClark25, Clark said late Sunday: "#Steelernation! Thanks for the prayers and well wishes!! I'm good, I'll be back out there on Sunday against the Giants! Takes more than that."
Monday, Clark tweeted: "It's a beautiful afternoon! Extremely excited about our team! Feeling pretty good too! It's a great day to be alive!"
Other injury updates: Tomlin discussed several other players who are dealing with injuries. Notably, he confirmed that RT Marcus Gilbert and SS Troy Polamalu would remain out.
Tomlin termed LB Stevenson Sylvester as "very questionable" with his hamstring injury but said LB LaMarr Woodley's hamstring injury "looks more promising." After the game Sunday, Woodley said he was fine. But he has had an extensive history of hamstring trouble over the last calendar year. Tomlin said Woodley might be limited in practice Wednesday. "Obviously his participation and how he looks over the course of the week will determine his availability," Tomlin said.
Yet another linebacker who has a hamstring injury, Brandon Johnson, is scheduled to practice.
Tomlin said G David DeCastro "is working individually and working his way back to us." The Steelers' first-round pick, DeCastro hasn't appeared in a game yet since sustaining a knee injury during the preseason. He remains on the IR list but is eligible to return to the active roster next week.
Sandy not affecting Steelers' plans: As you might expect from Tomlin, he said he "acknowledges" the problems the storm created along the East Coast in terms of how it could impact the Steelers' game at the Giants on Sunday. But he said, "I haven't spent any time pondering them."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello indicated that the league would stage the game as scheduled. "We are going to prepare to play and will stay in close touch with public authorities,” he said.
Steelers fans may recall that QB Ben Roethlisberger's first career start was in the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne. Roethlisberger completed 12 of 22 passes with a touchdown and an interception in a driving rainstorm Sept. 26, 2004, in Miami. The Steelers won the game, 13-3, the first of 13 consecutive victories Roethlisberger would start that season to begin his career. Hurricane Jeanne had struck the coast of Florida the previous day.
Taunting penalty "an awesome learning opportunity:" Tomlin said he addressed the entire team in the aftermath of a taunting flag thrown on WR Antonio Brown for running the final 15 yards backward into the end zone on a punt return. (The touchdown was called back any way for an illegal block in the back penalty on CB Curtis Brown).
Tomlin was complimentary of Brown in explaining how he addressed the misdeed.
"Briefly, simply what I said is that it was not respectable," Tomlin said. "Those of us that know Antonio and watch him work on a day-to-day basis, if one word describes him professionally it's respectable. How he prepares, what he's willing to do, what kind of teammate he is, and that's represented in his play. That's the way we approached it. I thought it was an awesome learning opportunity for the entire group because, as professionals, I think that's a word everyone would want [used] to describe their play. I think people that don't see you work on a day-to-day basis are capable of making judgments about you personally and professionally based on what they see, so we want to do what's respectable. That's what we talked about and kind of moved on."
Ta'amu status unclear: Tomlin would not commit to saying DT Alameda Ta'amu's spot on the active roster is safe. But the team's ancillary moves indicate it probably is.
The Steelers cut DL Corbin Bryant from the practice squad Tuesday and signed OL John Malecki and TE Jamie McCoy to their practice squad. Both Malecki and McCoy have long histories with the Steelers over the last two seasons, bouncing on and off the practice squad and active roster.
Releasing a defensive lineman would seem to be a sign that Ta'amu has a future with the Steelers. Ta'amu was arrested on Oct. 14 and charged on 15 counts, including felonies, after an alcohol-fueled chase with police.
"We'll deal with that," Tomlin said about Ta'amu's roster status. "We have a couple days' exemption from the league. Obviously, we're going to do what's best for us professionally here in an effort to win this game this weekend. Obviously, he's still in play. Obviously, we've got a decision to make and we'll make it at the appropriate time.
Pressed further on Ta'amu, and how his future with the Steelers could be tied to legal proceedings or discipline from the NFL, Tomlin said: "They're really separate issues. He's got in-house issues. Of course, he as legal issues and he has National Football League issues. Such is life."