By Mike Bires
Shaun McDonald will have a homecoming of sorts when the Steelers play in Detroit on Sunday. But it appears that he will do so as a bystander.
A wide receiver who spent the past two seasons with the Lions, McDonald said after practice Thursday that be will not be in uniform Sunday. That means Limas Sweed is out of coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse, at least for this week.
“I’m ready to get back in the mix and have some fun,” Sweed said after practice.
Sweed lost his spot as the No. 4 wideout after dropping what would have been a 34-yard touchdown pass in 23-20 loss in Cincinnati on Set. 27. He was not in uniform this past Sunday when the Steelers outscored San Diego, 38-28 at Heinz Field.
But this week, Tomlin is giving Sweed another chance.
PARKER OUT, POLAMALU VERY DOUBTFUL
Running back Willie Parker missed practice again Thursday, so that means he won’t play against the Lions. “Fast Willie” will sit out for the second straight week.
That means that Rashard Mendenhall, who rushed for 165 yards against the Chargers, will make his second straight start.
“I’m a competitor and I want to compete and show the world what I’ve got. But at the same time, I’ve got to be smart about it,” said Parker, who’s missed eight of the Steelers’ last 23 games due to injuries. “Right now, I’m not where I need to be.”
Meanwhile, strong safety Troy Polamalu practiced for the second straight day, but only on a limited basis. He did not take part in any team drills, which means his sprained knee is not close to being game ready.
Polamalau said “I feel pretty good.”
But when asked if he’ll be able to play Sunday, he said, “That’s part of the doctor/patient confidentiality act.”
In other words, Polamalu won’t play in Detroit. Tyrone Carter will make his fourth straight start.
In other injury news, tight end David Johnson (ankle) missed practice Thursday. But starting guard Chris Kemoeatu (ankle) and linebacker Andre Frazier (shoulder), returned to practice but on a limited basis.
Kemoeatu will start against the Lions.
ROETHLISBERGER PUTTING UP SIZZLING STATISTICS
Although the Steelers (2-2) got offensive balance by running and throwing effectively against San Diego, their passing attack remains their strong suit.
Not only does quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rank third in the league with 1,193 passing yards, he’s first in completion percentage (73.2) and second in completions (104).
If not for several drops by his receivers, Roethlisberger’s completion percentage would be close to 80.
“You know, the guys (on the offensive line) are giving me time,” Roethlisberger said of his passing accuracy. “And the playmakers we have, they’ll make the plays for me. I always tell the guys, if they give me time, I’ll the ball as best I can. It’s not always a perfect pass, but the wide receivers, tight ends and running backs, they all make me look good.”
Roethlisberger is on pace to throw for 4,772 yards.
The franchise single-season record was set in 1979 by Terry Bradshaw when he threw for 3,724 yards.
LIONS BANGED UP, TOO
The 1-3 Lions, who are 10.5 point underdogs against the Steelers, might be without four starters Sunday, including star wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Johnson (thigh), rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee), defensive end Dewayne White (hamstring) and defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
Both of Detroit’s back-up safeties _ Kalvin Pearson (quadricep) and Ko Simpson (hamstring) _ also missed both days of practice.
If Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft, can’t play, 11th-year pro Daunte Culpepper will start at QB for the Lions.
REDMAN BACK ON PRACTICE SQUAD
Rookie running back Isaac Redman is back on the Steelers’ practice squad.
Redman was promoted to the 53-man active roster last week when the Steelers felt they needed depth in the offensive backfield for the game in Cincinnati. Redman played on special teams against the Bengals, but didn’t get any carries.
On Monday, the Steelers cut Redman and re-signed defensive end Nick Eason, who was cut last week to make room for Redman.
But now Redman is back on the eight-man practice squad.