By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — One minute the Pittsburgh Steelers wideout corps was loaded, but with less than a week during training camp the club’s looking a little thin now that second-year player Emmanuel Sanders is out for 2-3 weeks.
Sanders, an emerging rookie star last season, had a procedure performed on his left foot Monday and is getting around camp today with a walking boot on to protect from further damage and promote the healing process.
“Yeah, I feel like it’s a setback, but just a minor setback for a major comeback,” Sanders said. “I just aggravated it during the first practice. I came out here at about 70 percent, and I tried to give it a go. So, what they did, they went in and did a procedure and injected bone marrow with calcium into my foot to speed up the healing process.
“They did that (Monday), so I’ll be out 2-3 weeks. And that’s better than originally when the said six weeks. But now it’s 2-3 weeks. I’m real bummed out, because I was running with the second receiver group. But I understand that I have to be at 100 percent. … And the main thing is the regular season, so right now it looks like I’ll be ready for that.”
Sanders had 28 catches for 376 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season, moving ahead of veteran Antwaan Randle El in the process, and he continued to excel during last year’s playoffs. But before halftime during the Super Bowl game against the Green Bay Packers, Sanders broke his right foot.
Tests were done on both feet that revealed a slight stress fracture in the left one to go with a broken metatarsal bone in the left one. So, Sanders needed to have surgery done on both. The right one was repaired, while the left one had a screw inserted to stabilize it.
“It was pretty strong after the surgery, but they thought it could break by midseason,” Sanders added. “So, they went in there and put a screw in there. There was no pain at all, and I feel like I’ll be back real soon. But, right now, I need the rest to be ready for the regular season.”
The Steelers entered this training camp with their wideout corps intact, but Randle El was released to create some cap room. And veteran Hines Ward has been out after offseason Thumb surgery, but he has been like another coach on the field for the wideouts. Third-year player Limas Sweed, expected to be a big target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has been hampered by a hamstring problems since the opening practice. But he’s trying to work through it.
The Steelers opening preseason game is Aug. 12 at Washington.