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    Chargers covid-19 news about Bosa, Tillery could hone Steelers offensive game plan – TribLIVE

    The Pittsburgh Steelers may not be the only team at SoFi Stadium worried about coronavirus absences.

    We know that they might be playing without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick due to positive tests.

    Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting that L.A. Chargers’ Pro Bowl edge rusher Joey Bosa is on the NFL’s covid-19 reserve list. Defensive lineman Jerry Tillery was also placed on the list Tuesday.

    According to sources who have spoken with Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller, Bosa is unvaccinated and Tillery is vaccinated.

    Via Miller, “The Chargers haven’t yet ruled out Bosa for Sunday, suggesting he has been deemed a close contact and hasn’t tested positive. If that’s the case, he could be cleared in time to play.”

    Asymptomatic vaccinated players can return once they receive two consecutive negative tests taken at least 24 hours apart. Vaccinated players with symptoms must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart and be asymptomatic for 48 hours.

    According to NFL protocols, unvaccinated players who test positive have to complete a 10-day quarantine and be cleared by a team doctor before being cleared to play.

    Bosa leads the Chargers with 5 1/2 sacks. He has 28 total tackles and three forced fumbles. Tillery is second on the team with 2 1/2 sacks and has 30 total tackles.

    If those two can’t play, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada better commit to what should already be an obvious game plan — give the ball to running back Najee Harris as much as humanly possible.

    Subtracting two starters from the Chargers front seven may further erode what has already been a weak run defense. Los Angeles yields 155.1 yards per game on the ground. That’s the worst in the NFL by a healthy margin. The Houston Texans are 31st at 136.9.

    Then again, if Bosa and Tillery are dedicated to getting after the passer, perhaps they’ll be replaced by backups who are simply more concerned about being sound against the run.

    Regardless, the Steelers should focus on pounding the ball with Harris as much as possible Sunday night. Especially if Roethlisberger can’t play, thus thrusting Mason Rudolph into another start.

    Canada can’t lean on Rudolph to throw the ball 50 times again. Even if he is emboldened to have Rudolph drop back a lot because of Bosa’s pass rush potentially being subtracted from the equation.

    Granted, the weather should be better in Los Angeles, and wide receiver Chase Claypool may be back. But 50 throws are way too many for any backup quarterback. Especially Rudolph, who is marginal for the position and hadn’t played in a regular-season game since Week 17 of last year.

    In this game, the opposition is begging to be exploited on the ground.

    To be fair, L.A. did contain the Minnesota Vikings and star running back Dalvin Cook last week. Cook had a modest 94 yards on 3.9 yards per carry. And the team only wound up with 103 yards rushing overall.

    In their four previous games, the Chargers were hemorrhaging 183.8 rushing yards per contest. Even if Bosa and Tillery do end up playing, the Steelers need to exploit that.

    Admittedly, the Steelers are heading west only averaging 94.7 rushing yards per game, 26th in the NFL. However, that number is improving. During their five-game unbeaten streak, the Steelers are clipping along at 126.2 yards per game on the ground. That would rank them seventh in the league if extrapolated over the full season.

    And Harris is at 92.2 yards per game in that stretch.

    I’m not encouraging Tomlin to fully commit to embracing his “run him until the wheels fall off” credo Sunday. But giving Harris the ball enough that he may need an oil change and a tire rotation would be just fine by me.

    Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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