PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers No. 1 pick David DeCastro, who started the club’s opening three preseason games at right offensive guard before suffering an ACL tear in his right knee Aug. 25 at Buffalo, came off the eight-week injured list and practiced Wednesday with his teammates.
“I did all the individual work and some scout team stuff, and I feel pretty good right now,” DeCastro said. “I’ll probably be a little sore (Thursday) morning, but it felt really good to be out there.
“It feels like it’s been a long, long time, but I’ve been doing some stuff with the assistant strength coach, football-related stuff. But nothing like going against NFL players. So, it was different, but in a good way.”
DeCastro has done a lot of running in recent weeks and said he didn’t have any problems getting through the drills Wednesday. The Steelers now have 21 days to either put him on the 53-man roster or return him to the regular injured reserve list and end his season. Either move can be made at any point during the next three weeks.
“I’m just trying to come out here and get better every day, get my strength back and get into football shape,” DeCastro said. “That’s my goal right now. … I didn’t have any expectations, so I just wanted to come in and do whatever I needed to do and see how I felt afterward. I have no idea what will happen.
“That’s something I can’t control, so I just want to do what I need to do to get healthy and get stronger. That’s the best thing for me, the best way for me to get ready if I get a chance to play. I think it’d be helpful for (my development) to play, but at the same time just being healthy and in good shape and being out here says a lot. So, that’s what I’m concentrating on right now.”
If DeCastro is added to the Steelers 53-man roster, they’ll have to release another player from it. Ramon Foster has started every game at right guard since DeCastro was injured.
Ziggy on the mend
After suffering a lower back injury during the first quarter last Sunday night, Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood missed practice Wednesday. Instead, he did some cardio work, stretching and had treatment to reduce the inflammation.
“That’s the first time I ever had any problems with my back,” Hood said. “There was no need to practice today, but I expect to feel better later this week and get some practice time in before playing against the Browns.”
If Hood can’t play or has a recurrence of the injury, second-year player Cameron Heyward would take his spot. Heyward had his most extensive playing time this season last Sunday night against the Ravens after Hood was hurt.
“I’ve played other games, like Cleveland and Houston last year,” Heyward said. “So, there were a couple games when guys got nicked up and I had to go in. But I think that was the most. I guess I was able to make some plays and get some consistency going, but I have to continue to get better.
If I do that, I’ll earn more playing time and not have to worry about somebody else getting hurt to get an opportunity. I have to make an impact every time I get in there. (But) I still have a lot to improve on. Experience helps, but I have to try to make an impact no matter how long I play.”
Heyward believed that Hood would be ready to play by game time.
Antonio Brown getting closer
Don’t expect the Steelers to have Antonio Brown this week, although the third-year wideout is optimistic once again. Sure, Brown practiced Wednesday on a limited basis, his ankle is still quite swollen.
“If Jerricho wasn’t hurt, I still might take it easy this week,” Brown said. “I wanted to try to practice last week, but I just wasn’t able to go. My ankle was still way swollen. It’s better this week, but only a little better, so I don’t know if I can run on it. And it’s still swollen, but not too much.
“It is a 4-6-week injury, but I wanted to do better than that. I thought I could do better, but it was just too swollen and it still is very tender. So, I guess it was wishful thinking on my part, but I did a little bit today (Wednesday), just individual drills, and we’ll see where I’m at (Thursday).”
WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), OT Marcus Gilbert, DE Ziggy Hood (back), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), SS Troy Polamalu (calf) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. … WR Antonio Brown was limited, and S Will Allen (shoulder), RB Isaac Redman (concussion) and LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) got through a full practice. … Redman said he has one more concussion test to pass Thursday, but he expected to be cleared to play.
LB Marshall McFadden and RB Baron Batch returned to the Steelers practice squad Wednesday, while OG Ryan Lee and TE Jamie McCoy were released. … McCoy gave his No. 80 to WR Plaxico Burress and wore No. 82 until he was cut.