Mike Tomlin has lit a match under a few stars on his team and has shaken up his Pittsburgh Steelers lineup for various reasons as they prepare to play in Baltimore on Sunday.
There will be changes in the offensive line and linebacker because of injuries, and changes at safety and wide receiver because of the return of injured players.
Two of the biggest changes will occur not because of injuries but lack of production. Rashard Mendenhall, who has been the starting halfback since 2009 and mostly a productive one, has been demoted to third-string by Tomlin. Jonathan Dwyer will start against the Ravens and Isaac Redman will back him up.
"I'm just going to do whatever I'm asked to," said Mendenhall, who ran for 1,273 yards in 2010. "I don't really think much of it. I've been in a lot of positions so I'm just approaching this week as I approach every week."
Perhaps even more stunning was the move Tomlin made to at least get a message across to Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace. He has been their starting split end since 2010 and their leading receiver in 2011, but he's had what he acknowledges is a disappointing season this year. Tomlin acknowledged it by listing both Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders as possible starters at split end, along with starting flanker Antonio Brown.
"I have to prepare the same way," Wallace said. "I feel I work hard every day. At practice, I do what I need to do and work hard every single day. The coach made that decision, I just go out and play."
Those aren't the only changes on offense this week for the Steelers. Four of the five offensive line positions could change. Two-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey could switch to left guard if Willie Colon (knee) cannot play and Doug Legursky would take over at center. If returning rookie guard David DeCastro is deemed ready, he would start at right guard and starting right guard Ramon Foster would move to right tackle, where Mike Adams has been lost this week with an ankle injury.
One change that apparently won't come is at quarterback, where Charlie Batch is likely to make his second straight start Sunday, three days before his 38th birthday. Neither Ben Roethlisberger nor backup Byron Leftwich seem ready to return.
Tomlin explained why he has not lost confidence in Batch, who threw three interceptions last week in a 20-14 loss at Cleveland.
"Just his body of work, not only that singular performance. Just his body of work, not only through this season on the practice field and in training camp and in preseason settings, but what he's done since he's been here," Tomlin said. "He's a capable, veteran guy, one that the guys believe in, one that we know is capable of providing a winning-type performance for us. That didn't occur on Sunday, but he wasn't alone."
Tomlin said Brian Hoyer, who signed last week to back up Batch in Cleveland, would be used only in an emergency.