By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steelers were back at work Wednesday, albeit an hour earlier than usual in an attempt to beat the inclement weather forecast for later that day, and as expect got several players back from injury.
After two days off, safety Troy Polamalu was back roaming the secondary, and Jason Worilds — battling No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones for James Harrison’s vacated starting right outside linebacker spot — returned from a big toe injury that he suffered on the first day of training camp practices at Saint Vincent College.
“He’s fine, medically speaking, but I’m sure he’s less than ideal,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It’s just that time of year, and let’s face it, during the course of a football season, oftentimes you’re less than ideal. (But) he’s out here working to get better, and we’re glad to have him back working out.”
The news was more vague about cornerback Curtis Brown and tight end Matt Spaeth. Brown is missing valuable time as a backup in the secondary. He sat out two days with an apparent left hamstring problem, and then missed Monday’s practice with an ankle issue. Spaeth missed a couple days last week with a right knee injury and reportedly needed it to be drained.
“I don’t have the details,” Tomlin said about Brown. “So, evidently, it’s not anything serious. He should be back out here as soon as he’s able to roll on it. (And) I think (Spaeth) is being examined now. He was in the outside linebackers versus the tight ends drill and stepped wrong or maybe stepped on someone’s foot. So, we’ll see what it looks like.”
William Gay has started at cornerback opposite Ike Taylor, as Cortez Allen is still recovering from surgery. When the Steelers go to the nickel defense and bring in an additional defensive back, Josh Victorian replaced Brown. Second-year player David Paulson was the starting tight end.
First Quiz Coming Up
The Steelers face the New York Giants in the preseason opener Saturday night at 7:30 at Heinz Field, and Tomlin knows what he wants from his rookies.
“Just how they deal with the failures,” Tomlin said. “When you get in a stadium-like setting, that’s one of the things that we don’t know about these guys at this point. Do they wear failures, or do they move on? Do they stack negative play upon negative play, or are they capable of moving past it?
“Those are some critical things that you don’t know about young guys until you get in a stadium. And it’s probably one of the things that we’re most eagerly awaiting in regard to some of them. … Obviously, we’re not a finished product, but we need to start working toward that.”
For the fifth straight practice, Mike Adams is the Steelers’ left offensive tackle, and Marcus Gilbert is on the right side. The two also are listed at those positions on the initial depth chart submitted by Tomlin for the Giants game. For the most part, the list should be taken as it is written.
However, it should be taken with a grain of salt in some instances as well, because Le’Veon Bell was listed as the No. 5 running back. When, in fact, he has been sharing time with Isaac Redman with the first-team offense.
Plays of the Day
During one of the team periods, wideout Antonio Brown blew past cornerback Ike Taylor and caught a Ben Roethlisberger toss in stride for a touchdown. Taylor apparently bit on the double move and was beaten easily.
Defensively, Damon Cromartie-Smith picked off an errant John Parker Wilson pass that was poorly thrown. No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones gets honorable-mention honors, as he dropped into pass coverage several times and had two pass breakups with one near interception.
Parker Wilson had several tough sequences in a row. Two plays after the pick, he would have been sacked but was allowed to leave the pocket. While rolling out, he dropped the ball and fell down trying to scoop it up.