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Notebook: Holmes hopes to play 16 games

  • Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes has one significant number in mind entering his third NFL season -- 16. "I'm pretty sure my stats are going to take care of themselves if I get an opportunity to play 16 games," Holmes said. Holmes played 13 games in 2007 around ankle and hamstring injuries and had 945 receiving yards, eight receiving TDs and an NFL-best average of 18.2 yards per catch. Entering his second season as a starter, Holmes appears poised for a breakthrough campaign if he stays healthy. He doesn't talk much about how that might translate specifically onto the stat sheet, but he's thought about it with regard to his developing relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "His expectations for himself are probably higher than anybody else's," Holmes said. "I don't want to add any burden to what he's thinking. I just hope that we communicate and connect maybe, at least 15, 20 times on touchdowns."
  • The Steelers' record for receiving TDs in a season is 12, set by Buddy Dial in 1961 and equaled by Louis Lipps in 1985 and again by Hines Ward in 2002. "I have a personal feeling inside that won't be talked about because I'm pretty sure that every football player should have that in them, that they're going to be 'the guy,' " Holmes said.
  • The Steelers are healthy with the exception of tight end Sean McHugh (ankle). McHugh, who signed Tuesday, didn't practice all week and also isn't up to speed on the Steelers' playbook, according to coach Mike Tomlin. McHugh won't play Sunday in the regular-season opener against Houston. For the Texans, linebacker Xavier Adibi (Achilles) is doubtful, OT Rashad Butler (shoulder) is questionable, and defensive end Earl Cochran (back) and offensive tackle Ephraim Salaam (knee) are probable.

Digits

4 -- Consecutive wins by the Steelers on kickoff weekend (the longest such streak in the NFL).

4.4 -- Average yards per carry amassed by running back Willie Parker in one career game against the Texans (111 yards on 25 carries).

5.5 -- Number of sacks linebacker James Harrison totaled at home while registering a team-leading 8.5 in 2007.

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