While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opponent on Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens, enjoyed a day off on Christmas – a byproduct of earning home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs – coach Mike Tomlin put his players through a 90-minute practice Wednesday at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Cornerback Steve Nelson was new to the injury report. He did not practice because of a groin injury. Tomlin did not cite Nelson’s injury Tuesday when he conducted his weekly press conference.
Also not practicing because of injury were running back James Conner (quad) and center Maurkice Pouncey (knee). Pouncey already has been ruled out from playing in the season finale against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Players getting the veteran off-day treatment were linebacker Mark Barron, guard David DeCastro, tackle Alejandro Villanueva, tight end Vance McDonald, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.
The most direct path for the Steelers (8-6) to make the playoffs is to beat the Ravens (13-2) and get help from the Houston Texans (10-5) at home against the Tennessee Titans (8-6). A win by the Titans will eliminate the Steelers and give Tennessee the No. 6 seed. The Texans already have clinched the AFC South title but will take the field Sunday afternoon knowing whether they have a chance to get the No. 3 seed. If the Texans don’t have a chance to move up from No. 4, they could rest several starters for the playoffs.
Neither the Titans nor Texans practiced on Christmas.