National Post (National Edition)

Cards may use ex-CFL pivot

Steelers to rest Big Ben against Browns

- DON BRENNAN Postmedia news dbrennan@postmedia.com

The Arizona Cardinals could have a slight advantage over the Los Angeles Rams when the two go head-to-head for a wildcard spot Sunday.

The quarterbac­k they might have to use has touched the ball one more time in a game than the backup the Rams are counting on.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is “hopeful” Kyler Murray will be able to overcome a leg injury he suffered in Week 16, and given the magnitude of the moment, his star QB is expected to play. But if he can't, or if he is forced out early, Arizona will rely on Chris Streveler, who was the CFL rushing touchdowns co-leader in 2019. That year Streveler set a league record by taking 23 snaps without throwing a pass in the West semifinal, and then helped Winnipeg win the Grey Cup.

Streveler has been on an NFL field for a grand total of four snaps, including two on special teams. The ball has been in his hands all of once, a three-yard run in Week 1.

Yet that makes him a seasoned veteran compared to John Wolford, who will be the Rams starter with Jared Goff having surgery to repair a broken thumb.

An undrafted 25-year-old out of Wake Forest, Wolford has never played an NFL snap but hey, he did occupy a spot on the Rams practice squad the last two years. He could be on a short leash as the Rams have signed former Jacksonvil­le starter Blake Bortles off the Broncos practice squad to be Wolford's backup.

Another quarterbac­k situation to monitor this week is the status of Alex Smith. If he can return from a calf injury, Washington has a good shot at beating Philadelph­ia and taking the NFC East division crown. If not, Washington could be in trouble, having just released former first rounder Dwayne Haskins and left with Taylor Heinicke, who started the season as Washington's fourth stringer.

If Heinicke can't win the first game of his career, the division will go to the winner of the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game.

Meanwhile, there are no “ifs” in Pittsburgh, where Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has decided that giving Ben Roethlisbe­rger a rest against the Cleveland Browns is more important than going all-out for a shot at the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Using backup Mason Rudolph isn't a bad idea, since the Steelers didn't really get a true bye week this season because of scheduling changes due to COVID-19.

In the five games before Sunday's second half comeback to hand the Indianapol­is Colts a devastatin­g loss, they have looked tired. Particular­ly Big Ben.

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