Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear in his press conference that the top two running backs on the team's depth chart will be playing this Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field.
While Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Jason Worilds all rest and relax along with other starters, Tomlin seems determined to play his two starting running backs in a game that normally equates to resting up for the regular season.
Last week after the two backs were charged with possession of marijuana, Tomlin didn't just play the two players against the Philadelphia Eagles, but played them into the fourth quarter. All in a game that ultimately means nothing.
Some speculated that was Tomlin's way of punishing the two player for their irresponsible behavior off of the field. If that was the case, Tomlin is playing with fire.
Fans often talk about players that the Steelers 'can't afford to lose', and players like Polamalu, Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are always atop that list. However, look at the Steelers' running back depth chart and Bell and Blount should be right up there as well.
Playing the running backs for a series or two Thursday night is reasonable. Anything after that is overkill. Tomlin made his point last week making the two run behind a patchwork backup offensive line, but for this final game the ultimate goal should be getting these crucial parts of your team in and out of the game without injury.
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