The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without one of their top offensive weapons for Saturday night's Wild Card Weekend clash against the Cincinnati Bengals, as the team announced Friday that running back DeAngelo Williams will be inactive for the game.
Williams left Pittsburgh's Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns after suffering a sprained ankle. His prospects to play in the Steelers' first postseason game didn't look good, as he was still in a walking boot as recently as Wednesday, according to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
With Williams' status in doubt, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin prepared himself to move forward with Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman as his running backs against the Bengals, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
DeAngelo is being evaluated and getting treatment. I don't know what his availability will be in terms of the game. Like we do in all instances, we will let practice participation be our guide in terms of what to expect from him. We will give him an opportunity to do that if he is capable. ... In the meanwhile, I think it's appropriate to build our plan around Toussaint and Jordan Todman, guys that have been here, guys that are healthy and guys that are willing and capable of being positive contributors to our efforts.
The 32-year-old Williams was a huge part of Pittsburgh's success in the regular season, as he started 10 games in place of Le'Veon Bell, who was suspended for the first two games of the campaign and then suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.
In an increased role, Williams rushed for 907 yards on 200 carries and a league-best 11 touchdowns while also catching a career-high 40 passes for 367 yards.
With the former Pro Bowler out of the fold, there will likely be much more pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh's high-powered passing game to put points on the board.
Lefkoe's Locks Week 6
Lefkoe's Locks: Gambling Preview & Prediction for NFL Week 5
Gridiron Heights, Season 2, Ep. 4: Send Blake Bortles to the Moon Already
Lefkoe's Locks: Week 3 Gambling Preview and Predictions
Gridiron Heights, Season 2, Ep. 3: "Being JJ Watt’s Brother Must Really Suck"
Lefkoe's Locks: Gambling Preview & Prediction for NFL Week 2
Gridiron Heights, Season 2 Ep. 1: 28-3 Jokes for Life
Why Pats' Cooks Is a Fire Fantasy Pick
Bold Predictions for 2017 NFL Season
Will Matt Ryan Be a Top 5 QB in 2017?
Will Marshall Bounce Back for Fantasy Owners in 2017?
Which Overvalued RBs Should You Avoid?
Why You Should Target Kenyan Drake as a Late-Round Sleeper
Which Value QBs Should Fantasy Owners Target Late?
Which NFL Superstar Should You Take #1 in Fantasy Drafts?
Happy Birthday to the Greatest QB of All-Time Tom Brady
From Tries to Touchdowns: Former English Rugby Star Is Set to Take on NFL
Top Storylines to Watch for in NFL Training Camp 2017
DeAngelo Williams Is Latest NFL Star to Swap Gridiron for Pro Wrestling Ring
While the Steelers are perfectly capable of getting the job done through the air with wide receivers Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton and tight end Heath Miller, not having the threat of the run could make the sledding much more difficult.
Saturday's game figures to be a tough, physical affair against a divisional rival with a strong defense, and the ability of unheralded players like Toussaint and Todman to contribute and keep the Bengals honest could potentially be the biggest key to the contest.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.