In spite of the fact that our offense could really use Reggie's abilities right now and all that he brings to the table, Reggie should either come back after the bye week or play sparingly vs. Carolina. Let's face it- if the fracture is healed up like it probably is, that doesn't mean Reggie is 100% re: muscles, ligaments etc as well as conditioning and timing. He hasn't practiced. He and the team would be much better served by bringing him back after he practices an abundant amount of time and allow him to get his timing and reflexes where they need to be. We don't need an offense misfiring because a gifted player, who everyone is hoping will help turn things around, is rusty. No, we need to be consistent and methodical and not turn the ball over or commit mental mistakes because of being rusty. It doesn't have to be real exciting, just a "W." Then we can build from there.
I have every confidence that we can beat Pittsburgh, which admittedly is the best team in the NFL right now, if we come in with a good game plan, play at a very high level, and take advantage of the home field advantage situation. Not turning the ball over would actually be the # 1 priority and an X factor. Another X factor would be exploiting their replacement for Aaron Smith at DE. Along that line of thinking, let's use our TE's like we can and have been successful with in the past. Both Shockey and Thomas. I would focus both pass and run plays around those guys. I would love to see Thomas moving around more like last year where you never knew if he was a FB or a TE or a slot guy.
We clearly will have to do all of those things and hope a few breaks go our way instead of Pittsburgh's way to win. But, to have Reggie come back and perform in a mediocre fashion in THIS game because he is just barely ready, well I think that would add to the negativity and doubt that has crept in. I think Ivory, Betts and Jones can get the job done. I don't expect it to be a wide open run and gun game- we may have to grind a bit and take a few selective shots when we can, but it can be accomplished. A 100% Reggie would be perfect for this game, but I just wouldn't think there is much of a chance he would be 100% so playing him in that situation could backfire.
If we don't win, it just means we come back the next week and make sure we get a win before the bye and then come back very healthy and motivated after the bye to go on a tear. But I think we can win this one- we just need the crowd to do what it does best. Wish I could be there!!