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Steelers defensive end Keisel set for return

The Steelers' Brett Keisel returned to practice Wednesday, and the veteran defensive end said he will play Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans. Keisel has missed the past two games because of a sprained right knee.

"It felt really good," Keisel said of the knee, which he injured against Seattle. "It's just a matter of going out and doing football movements and trying to do it at full speed. There wasn't anything that indicated that I wouldn't (play Sunday)."

Keisel's return comes at a good time for the Steelers, and not just because they yielded 155 rushing yards to Houston's Arian Foster last Sunday.

• Aaron Smith, who starts at left defensive end, didn't practice Wednesday. He is questionable for Sunday's game because of a sprained foot. Smith was wearing a walking boot yesterday, as was running back Mewelde Moore, who is nursing a sprained ankle and is unlikely to play against the Titans.

• Others who didn't practice Wednesday because of injuries were running back Rashard Mendenhall (hamstring), nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder), left guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee), outside linebacker Jason Worilds (quadriceps) and cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle). Wide receiver Hines Ward was given a veteran's day off, and outside linebacker James Harrison was not at the facility as he underwent surgery to correct a fractured orbital bone.

• The Steelers practiced in pads Wednesday and are expected to do the same Thursday. Teams are only allowed to practice twice in pads in the same week once during the season, per the new collective bargaining agreement. Inside linebacker James Farrior, echoing coach Mike Tomlin's sentiments, said the time is right for the Steelers to have back-to-back padded practices.

"It gives everybody a better look in practice," the Steelers' defensive captain said. "It helps your timing. It gives you a better feel for what you need to be doing in the game."

• The Steelers signed former Auburn running back Tristan Davis to their practice squad Wednesday and released safety Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith. Davis is emulating Titans running back Chris Johnson in practice. The Steelers released offensive tackle Chris Scott to make room on their 53-man roster for Max Starks. Scott, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010, played in two games this season.

• Titans kick returner Marc Mariani (hip) and tight end Craig Stevens (rib) did not practice Wednesday because of injuries. Safety Chris Hope, a former Steeler, has been ruled out of Sunday's game because of a forearm injury.

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