The Steelers were back on the practice fields at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side Wednesday, getting ready for their Week 3 road game with the Indianapolis Colts.
The team got healthier in some spots, too, with LG Chris Kemoeatu, WR Jerricho Cotchery, and CB Bryant McFadden returning to practice from knee, hamstring, and hamstring injuries respectively. Not practicing were Brett Keisel (knee), as well as James Farrior, Hines Ward, and Aaron Smith with their usual veteran's days off. Center Maurkice Pouncey was limited with a hamstring strain.
It's too early to tell whether Pouncey's injury is one to worry about, but if the hammy (and still ankle?) continues to nag him it's likely Doug Legursky would move to center, with Ramon Foster sliding this week from LG to RG.
As for Cotchery, it'll be interesting to find out whether he'll see any playing time Sunday night in Indianapolis. Ahead of him on the depth chart right now are the 'Young Money Family' receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, who have combined for 10 catches through the first two weeks of the season and looked particularly impressive against Seattle.
In the Seahawks game this past Sunday, Sanders had a key 30-yard catch on the game's first 3rd-down and followed that up by throwing an impressive 15-yard reverse-pass to Hines Ward. Emmanuel has taken an early edge in the battle for the #3 WR spot, with the coaches appearing to trust him slightly more than Brown. It appeared that Sanders got two-series of action for every one that Brown had, in a game where tight ends were used more frequently.
Brown, who had a few route miscommunications with QB Ben Roethlisberger in Baltimore Week 1, rebounded for a four-catch second half against Seattle including grabs of 14, 18, 16, and 19-yards. Three of Brown's four catches came on third-downs, with two of the four converting the required down-and-distance.
Then again, Cotchery looked impressive throughout training camp and in the second preseason game against Philadelphia reeled in two nice catches, one for a TD. He has 388-catch career resume, including 30 in playoff action. On his hamstring pull, which has nagged him for a month now, Jerricho told our Mark Kaboly "I re-injured it right before the Baltimore game. I would loved to have been back by now. It has been frustrating watching from the sidelines, watching your teammates go to work out there on the field. The main thing for me is to make sure I take care of everything in the training room, so once I get back on the field I can stay out there. I think I probably pushed it a little bit too hard. Sometimes you can get in the way of your own self. I don't like to use the work 'cautious' but we've taken every step to make sure we're approaching it the right way. It's good to be back on the field at least today."
There's a good possibility the Steelers will dress 6 wide receivers (Ward, Wallace, Sanders, Brown, Cotchery, and special teams ace Arnaz Battle) going forward, which could prohibit CB Curtis Brown from seeing the field much. Curtis chipped in with a special teams tackle, but also commited a personal foul penalty for retaliating in a skirmish after a punt return this past Sunday.
The Indianapolis Colts had a lengthy injury report on Wednesday, with key starters in LB Gary Brackett (shoulder), S Marvin Bullit (shoulder), TE Dallas Clark (foot), G Ryan Diem (ankle), DE Dwight Freeney (abdomen), and DE Robert Mathis (chest) missing the mid-week practice session.
On a separate note, the faking of injuries by Giants defensive players in the Monday night game was a topic of discussion in the Steelers locker room Wednesday. LB Larry Foote had this to offer:
"It happens. I don't want to throw no names out, but… I was somewhere where that was coached before. And I was highly disappointed. But I [didn't] partake in it. I've never seen nobody here [with the Steelers] do it. I would never succumb to that type of pressure."
Unless Foote was talking about his college days, it's pretty obvious the NFL location he was referring to where faking injuries was coached.