Pittsburgh Steelers' mailbag: Ryan Shazier's status?

A big mailbag this week. If you have a Pittsburgh Steelers question please send to @ScottBrown_ESPN with #mail.

And away we go.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: Ryan Shazier is listed as probable on the Steelers' final injury report of the week and I expect him to play. How much the rookie linebacker plays remains to be seen. I would think Shazier will share snaps with Sean Spence at left inside linebacker. The Steelers need to be smart with their first-round pick, and I would think they would put Shazier on a pretty strict snap count since he still has to work his way back into optimum football shape after missing the last four games because of a sprained knee.

@ScottBrown_ESPN I wondered about that myself while covering the game last Monday night. Sean Spence looked like he got caught out of position a number of times though he did recover a fumble during the pivotal second-quarter stretch when the Steelers scored 24 unanswered points. Vince Williams seems to make plays when he is in the game and he started 11 games last season as a rookie. My guess is Williams isn't good enough in pass coverage, at least in the eyes of the coaches, to play more snaps.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: Well, they aren't exactly the 1985 Chicago Bears or even the Seattle Seahawks from last season. The Colts are beatable but the Steelers are going to have to play their best game of the season to end Indianapolis' five-game winning streak. First and foremost, the defense is going to have to produce takeaways, just as it did in the 30-23 win over the Houston Texans. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck makes questionable throws at times and if the Steelers are in a position to pick him off they have to capitalize. The offense also has to put it together for an entire game. There is no reason why a unit that has the Steelers' talent shouldn't consistently score in the high 20s and low 30s. It is probably going to have to put up a lot of points for the Steelers to beat the Colts.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: It's temporary and a nod to how Brice McCain has played in practice as well as in games and a message to Cortez Allen that he has to be more consistent. The Steelers haven't given up on Allen by any means, and remember Ike Taylor endured a benching in 2006 and it ultimately made him a better player. Plus, it's not like Allen is tethered to the bench. He played a lot of snaps against the Texans because the Steelers frequently used their nickel package. The same could happen Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think it's had a big impact. Jarvis Jones is a huge upgrade over Arthur Moats and James Harrison at right outside linebacker. And from a big-picture standpoint it is critical that Jones fulfills the potential that led the Steelers to take him with their first-round pick in 2013. The only way he is going to do that is by getting on the field, something that could happen Nov. 17 against the Tennessee Titans. That is when Jones is eligible to play in a game and he can come off the injured reserve/designated to return list at the beginning of November. Ike Taylor too has been missed given the struggles that Cortez Allen has endured. The Steelers -- and Allen -- might be better off right now to let him watch and regroup a little. They don't have the luxury of doing that because Taylor is out.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: If the Steelers miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season I think the heat gets turned up on general manager Kevin Colbert as well as coach Mike Tomlin. I don't think either loses his job but there is no question that the Steelers have to start drafting better. Like most teams, they've had their share of hits and misses but I'm not sure I'd use the word "poor" to describe his drafts. His overall record is still pretty good and Colbert would be the first to admit he has to do a better job given the Steelers' philosophy of building through the draft. As for Art Rooney II, he wanted an offensive coordinator with a different approach and one who would minimize the punishment absorbed by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. We can debate all day whether the Steelers made the right call in "retiring" Bruce Arians, but it's Rooney II's team and he made the decision that he thought was best for the organization.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: That all depends on Martavis Bryant and whether he builds off a promising debut. I think his role will gradually expand and certainly there is an opening for him with Justin Brown seemingly falling out of favor with the coaches and Markus Wheaton trying to work his way out of a funk. Bryant's size and speed needs to be used in the passing game, and what I really liked about the rookie is that it wasn't too big for him last Monday night against the Houston Texans. He got open twice on go patterns and made a really nice catch for the Steelers' first touchdown. His play against the Texans bodes well for Bryant moving forward as long as he can minimize his growing pains.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: No chance. Michael Sam has to play in a 4-3 defense because he can't cover anybody and outside linebackers have to be able to play the pass in Dick LeBeau's defense. Plus, I don't think Sam plays specials teams. He is basically a situational pass rusher who is not a good fit in a 3-4 defemse.