By Mike Bires
Ryan Mundy claims he does not know who’s starting at free safety Monday night in Denver. But it could be him.
A second-year pro who attended Woodland Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh, Mundy has been seeing extensive time with the first-team defense at practice this week.
At least one Steeler defender said Mundy will make his first career start when the Steelers play the Broncos.
“Nobody has told me anything yet,” Mundy said after Thursday’s practice. “So we’ll see.”
Whether it’s Mundy or 10th-year pro Tyrone Carter, it appears more and more that the Steelers will have a different free safety at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Ryan Clark, who experienced a serious health scare the last time the Steelers played in Denver, has yet to announce his intentions. But speculation suggests that Clark won’t play. Because he’s a sickle cell trait carrier whose blood is affected by the rarified Rocky Mountain Air, Clark will likely sit this one out.
That’s the advice he’s getting from several of his teammates.
“Me personally, I love life better than I do football,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “Me, if I was in that situation, I wouldn’t even think twice about it. Life is more precious than football.”
EASON SET TO START AT LEFT DEFENSIVE END
The Steelers will have yet another starter at left defensive end.
Travis Kirschke, who had started the past two games in place on the injured Aaron Smith, missed practice Thursday. Kirschke has not practiced since tearing his calf muscle in the Oct. 25 win over Minnesota.
The Steelers have yet to rule Kirschke out. But it’s almost a given that Nick Eason will make only the fifth start in his seven-year pro career.
“I want to play. I’m hoping I can play. But I’ve got to be patient,” Kirschke said. “It takes some time for (this kind of injury) to heal. Typically, it’s anywhere from three to six weeks. Hopefully, it’s sooner than later.”
Eason, who’s only played in two games so far this season, can’t wait to start against the Broncos. He was Denver’s fourth-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, but never played a down with the Broncos. He was cut early in ’04 and signed with the Browns.
“I guess you can say I have a little chip on my shoulder,” Eason said.
Smith is out for the year with a shoulder injury.