Jermaine Gresham TE CIN 7 Hrs
Gresham caught 3-of-3 targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Steelers.
Gresham missed a good chunk of the first half while dealing with a back injury, and he appeared to hurt his leg on his five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. According to ESPN's Coley Harvey, the leg issue was merely a cramp. Gresham may be on the injury report for Sunday's wild-card game against the Colts, but he should be able to suit up. A.J. Green (concussion) is seemingly in more danger of missing the game, though it's still far too early to make any sort of judgement. Should Green end up sitting, Gresham could see extra targets.
Andy Dalton QB CIN 7 Hrs
Dalton completed 27-of-38 passes for 244 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Steelers.
A.J. Green played a role in both interceptions, as the first came on a miscommunication that handed Pittsburgh the ball, and the second deflected off the star wideout's hands. Both were very poor throws, so it's not as if Dalton isn't also to blame. While sometimes prolific, Dalton and Green have a perplexing number of miscommunications for a duo that's been working together for four years. Unfortunately for the Bengals, Green left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter with a probable concussion, after playing through a biceps bruise the entire night. As off-and-on as the duo has been this season, Dalton is quite obviously a better bet to produce when his favorite target is available. Following a disappointing regular season, the last thing Dalton needs is to face the Colts in Sunday's wild-card game without Green's services.
Giovani Bernard RB CIN 8 Hrs
Bernard caught 7-of-8 targets for 56 yards and a touchdown, adding eight yards on three carries, in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Steelers.
Bernard took the snaps in obvious passing situations, while Jeremy Hill finished with 100 yards on 23 carries, adding two receptions for 10 yards on three targets. Hill's continued domination of the carries leaves Bernard with a modest weekly ceiling, but the Bengals clearly strive to have both running backs heavily involved. If A.J. Green (concussion) can't play in Sunday's wild-card game against the Colts, Bernard could get some extra targets.
Jeremy Hill RB CIN 8 Hrs
Hill had 23 carries for 100 yards, adding two receptions for 10 yards on three targets, in Sunday's 27-17 loss to the Steelers.
While little else worked in the team's favor, Cincinnati's running back duo provided exactly what management had in mind. Hill was again a nightmare for would-be tacklers, pushing his rookie-year rushing total to 1,124 yards with yet another strong showing. Meanwhile, Giovani Bernard caught 7-of-8 targets for 56 yards and a touchdown, adding eight yards on just three carries. Hill figures to see plenty of work in Sunday's playoff game against the Colts, and the Bengals may need even more than usual from their two running backs, if A.J. Green (concussion) is unable to play. Of course, a Green absence would presumably lead to more eight-man fronts for Hill.
Martavis Bryant WR PIT 8 Hrs
Bryant caught 1-of-2 targets for a 21-yard touchdown in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Bengals.
Excellent blocking allowed Bryant to waltz in off a screen pass, giving him eight touchdowns from just 25 receptions and 48 targets in 10 games. While that obviously isn't sustainable over a larger sample size, Bryant should convert a good percentage of his catches into scores in future years. He used his 6-4 frame and 4.4 speed to rack up 21.1 yards per reception as a rookie, though the number would be a somewhat more modest 18.2, if you removed his memorable 94-yard touchdown. On a less encouraging note, Bryant saw just four targets over the final two weeks of the season, after drawing four or more in each of his first eight appearances.
Josh Harris RB PIT 8 Hrs
Harris had five carries for seven yards in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Bengals.
All of Harris' carries came during the fourth quarter, after Le'Veon Bell left the game with a hyperextended right knee. The Steelers were faced with a major drop-off, as Harris and Archer are both little-used rookies. While Harris was undrafted and Archer a third-round pick, Harris is probably the better bet to lead the team in carries, should Bell miss Saturday's playoff game against the Ravens. The undersized Archer would be more likely to contribute as a pass-catcher, and the Steelers would likely do quite a bit of throwing. Bell seemingly has a decent shot to be ready, as hyperextended knees are often manageable within a day or two.
Dri Archer RB PIT 8 Hrs
Archer lost a yard on his only carry, adding two receptions for 19 yards on two targets, in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Bengals.
Le'Veon Bell exited in the third quarter with a hyperextended knee, leaving Archer and fellow rookie Josh Harris to handle the workload at running back. Harris wasn't targeted, but he did finish with five carries for seven yards. Should Bell miss Saturday's playoff game against the Ravens, it's not entirely clear how the workload would be divided. Archer's top-notch speed makes him a threat as a receiver, but his lack of size raises questions about both pass-blocking and running between the tackles. Archer is listed at just 5-8 and 173 pounds, while Harris has typical NFL running-back size at 5-11, 210. Archer was drafted late in the third round, and Harris caught on to the practice squad as an undrafted free agent. With Bell playing nearly every snap since LeGarrette Blount was released, neither rookie has seen much action this season.
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT 8 Hrs
Roethlisberger completed 24-of-38 passes for 317 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Bengals.
Roethlisberger was far from perfect while playing through a minor illness, but his previously middling stats got a huge boost late in the fourth quarter, when Antonio Brown took an intermediate pass for a 63-yard, game-sealing touchdown. Roethlisberger had an odd mixture of massive and mediocre performances this year, but the end result is easily the finest statistical season of his career. He either set or matched personal bests in completion percentage (67.1), passing yards (4,952) and passing touchdowns (32). Roethlisberger's own excellent play was a huge factor, but it's not as if he's ever been the problem. After years of dealing with a mediocre supporting cast, Roethlisberger benefited immensely from the emergence of Le'Veon Bell, along with a strong offensive line. Bell suffered a hyperextended knee in Sunday's game, and while the injury doesn't sound overly serious, there's perhaps some chance that the Steelers' workhorse won't be ready for Saturday's playoff game against the Ravens. Last time the two rivals met, Roethlisberger torched Baltimore for 340 yards and six touchdowns.
Antonio Brown WR PIT 9 Hrs
Brown had seven receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown, adding two punt returns for 84 yards and another touchdown, in Sunday's 27-17 win over the Bengals.
Brown uncharacteristically failed to haul in a couple of catchable passes, but he more than made up for it with a pair of fantastic plays. His 71-yard punt return provided the first points of the night, while his 63-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter clinched a victory for the Steelers. Brown's 129 receptions represent the second-best single-season total in NFL history, and his 1,698 receiving yards are good for sixth on the all-time list. In addition to leading the league in both of those categories, Brown tied for second in touchdown receptions, finishing with 13. While he's always a crucial part of the Pittsburgh gameplan, Brown may be more important than ever for a first-round playoff matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, as there's some chance that star running back Le'Veon Bell (hyperextended knee) won't be able to play. Of course, Bell's absence would allow the Ravens to pay more attention to Brown, and it would also make it significantly harder for the Steelers to pile up points. Last time the rivals met, Ben Roethlisberger completed 25-of-37 passes for 340 yards and six touchdowns, with Brown producing 11 catches for 144 yards and a score. The Baltimore secondary has made progress since that game, but it's still a vulnerable group.
A. J. Green WR CIN 9 Hrs
Green left Sunday's game late in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit to the head, and he will be subject to the NFL's concussion protocol, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
The diagnosis was essentially a given, as Green was hit directly in the head by a defender, just a split-second after getting stripped by another defender. Already playing through a biceps bruise that's believed to be fairly serious, Green was down on the field for a couple of minutes, before walking off in an apparent daze. He caught eight passes for 82 yards in Sunday's game, but he needed 13 targets to get there, and he was partially responsible for two turnovers. Prior to the fumble, a ball tipped off his hands during the first half, leading to an easy interception for the Steelers. The throw from Andy Dalton was poor, but it was the kind of catch that Green typically makes. If Green isn't available for Sunday's playoff game against the Colts, Cincinnati will have extra targets to divide between Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham, Brandon Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher. While he has since all but disappeared, Sanu stepped up in a big way when Green missed time earlier in the season.