By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Emmanuel Sanders broke on the ball, eluded a defender providing token coverage and pulled in a pass.
It wasn’t anything special by Sanders’ standards, but it was spectacular to see since the second-year Pittsburgh Steelers wideout has missed nearly the entire preseason with a sore left foot. Sanders worked out on a limited basis Tuesday, but it was more running than he had done in several weeks.
“I’m feeling good, really good, actually,” Sanders said. “I practiced (Tuesday), doing some individual work, and it felt pretty good out there. I feel good today, too, so it’s looking pretty good for me right now. I can’t wait to get back out there on a full-time basis.”
Sanders broke his right foot in the Super Bowl and found out he has a stress fracture in his left foot as well, but had surgery on both in the offseason. While the right foot appears to be completely healed, the left one gave him some trouble during the opening training-camp week. And he hasn’t practiced since.
“It’s definitely disappointing, because I had very high expectations going into this season after the way things went for me last year,” Sanders said. “But the good thing is that I’ve been blessed. The X-rays show that everything is healing as expected, and I’m right on schedule for me to play in that first game.
“So, I’ll just continue to do a little bit more every day and keep picking up the pace of my workouts, and we’ll see where I’m at in another two weeks. We’ll be getting ready for the season-opener, and I hope to be doing the same thing. I just wish I had a training camp, but it’s all good. I shouldn’t have any setbacks.”
Sanders added that he has been running without any pain or issues lately, and he hoped to get involved in the team drills next week.
B-Mac Is Back
Seventh-year cornerback Bryant McFadden went through a complete practice Tuesday and expected to go through another one today with the intent to play against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night at 7:30 at Heinz Field.
“Atlanta is a good team, coming off a 13-3 season last year when we beat them in the opening game,” McFadden said. “They want on a good run after that, and turned into a really good football team. So, it’s a big challenge.
“They have an outstanding quarterback, a great group of receivers and premier tight end, a future Hall-of-Famer. So, it’s going to be a good test for our defense, especially our secondary, and I want to be in there to lend a hand.”
McFadden added that he was excited to get through a full practice week for the first time since suffering a right hamstring and quad injury several weeks ago.
“It’s going to be great to get out there in front of our fans,” McFadden said. “I’m really anxious. It’s kind of like Christmas for me. It’s been very frustrating for me, because this is a game that I love. I love to compete and play good football, but this is something I can’t control. Injuries are part of the game.
“So, all you can do is keep yourself in the best condition possible and put in the time to get back if you do get injured. So, I’ve made a lot of progress since the last preseason game, but I’m not 100 percent just yet. We still have a couple days left before the next one, and I expect to be ready for it.”
Questions have abound concerning McFadden’s status with the Steelers this season since the club drafted two corners — third-rounder Curtis Brown from Texas and The Citadel’s Cortez Allen in the fourth — and brought in veterans Kevin Dockery and Macho Harris. But it’s not likely that he’ll be cut.
“During camp, we had a lot of guys hurt, three or four who couldn’t even practice,” McFadden said. “Me, Crez and the two rookies missed a lot of time. Will Gay and Ike missed the first week until they signed, and then Ike got hurt.
“Sure, they brought in a couple of new guys, but you can’t worry about that. You just have to concentrate on what you can do. I take it as the corners that we had couldn’t practice and nothing more than that.”
With starters Ike Taylor (left thumb surgery) and McFadden out, Gay and third-year player Keenan Lewis have been the starters with first-year player Donovan Warren and rookie Brown — who just returned from a hamstring injury — are the backups. Allen (hamstring) and second-year player Crezdon Butler (quad) are still out with injuries. Taylor is expected to be ready for the opener.