UM product Toussaint is likely Steelers featured RB

Ray Fittipaldo
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers are going to prepare for their AFC wild-card game against the Bengals with the assumption that former Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will be the featured back.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon at his weekly news conference that starting running back DeAngelo Williams is day-to-day with a right ankle injury, but he will proceed with the assumption that Toussaint will be the starter Saturday night when the Steelers visit Paul Brown Stadium.

“DeAngelo is being evaluated and getting treatment,” Tomlin said. “He can be characterized as day-to-day. I don’t know what his availability will be. We’ll let his practice participation be our guide. We’ll have daily discussions and planning regarding that. It’s appropriate to build our plan around Fitz and (Jordan) Todman. We’ll challenge those guys to have a big week and deliver for us the way others have when injuries struck.”

Toussaint filled in for Williams after he was injured in the first quarter of the regular-season finale against the Browns. He finished the game with 24 yards on 12 carries, but Tomlin and the other players on the roster are big believers in Toussaint, who spent most of the season on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster late in the season.

“He’s a talented and hard-working guy,” Tomlin said. “He displays that for us on a day to day basis. Not only when he was called up and active but when he was serving us in the scout team capacity when he was a practice squadder. ... He brings a no-nonsense approach, blue-collar approach that I’m sure Steelers nation will appreciate. I’m sure they’ll grow to like him in the manner we do.”

Tomlin reported no other major injuries from the finale against Cleveland. He does not anticipate outside linebacker Jarvis Jones having any issues this week as they prepare for the game. The same goes for receiver Martavis Bryant, who dealt with an illness and a minor neck injury against the Browns.

Tomlin said he is not concerned about his players being overemotional for the third meeting of the season against the Bengals. When these two teams met in Cincinnati on Dec. 13 the NFL doled out nearly $150,000 in fines for illegal hits.

Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict accumulated nearly $70,000 in fines for three illegal hits against the Steelers, but several Steelers players were fined in that game as well, including safety Mike Mitchell to the tune of $23,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.

“I’m not at all (concerned),” Tomlin said. “I know our group. We’re singularly focused on the opportunity of the playoffs and that’s winning games.”