Steelers cornerback McFadden feeling way

Ralph N. Paulk
| Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011

It's been a frustrating season for Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, who limped through the preseason before working his way into the lineup for last Sunday's season-opener at Baltimore.

Still, McFadden isn't at full strength. He practiced only sparingly Friday in preparation for Sunday's home-opener against Seattle at Heinz Field.

McFadden is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury and saw limited duty yesterday. There's a chance the seven-year veteran could be scratched from the lineup in favor of backups Keenan Lewis or William Gay.

"I was just practicing, so I don't know whether I was on the first or second team," said Lewis, in his third season. "I'll be ready because I've been preparing all week."

While McFadden didn't appear to labor as he headed toward the trainer's room, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau distributed reps almost evenly this week, working both Lewis and Gay.

McFadden remains optimistic.

"I feel pretty good, but I'm not back in the groove yet," McFadden said. "It was good getting the blood flowing and getting the real-game feeling last week.

"It was frustrating not being able to compete. I missed a lot of reps and practice time, but I was trying to stay in tune mentally."

McFadden, who missed the entire preseason with a groin injury, has been plagued by nagging injuries the past two seasons — including a right pectoral muscle injury during last year's preseason. He sustained a hip injury in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV.

"(McFadden) is a veteran football player who understands that injuries are as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling," said coach Mike Tomlin. "He's dealt with the injuries in the past, and I didn't have any concerns about letting him play against Baltimore."

The Steelers' secondary is likely to catch a break against the Seahawks, who were largely inept offensively in a 33-17 loss to San Francisco. Seattle amassed 219 yards from scrimmage, including 197 yards passing from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who had an efficiency rating of 78.3.

"(Jackson) has been banged around a bit, but he's been hanging tough," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. "He's been very effective when we've given him time to throw the football."

The Steelers are confident they can pressure Jackson. If the Seahawks can't get a spark from a running game that averaged 2.9 yards per carry against San Francisco, Jackson will have no choice but to air it out.

The Steelers' cornerbacks might not be pressed in man coverage against the Seattle receiving corps — including Mike Williams and Doug Baldwin, who caught a 55-yard touchdown pass last week — but McFadden suggested the secondary will be criticized no matter how it performs.

"We've had a lot of success with pretty much the same guys in the secondary," McFadden said. "I guess a lot of blame goes on the secondary, and that's the case with a lot of teams."

The entire defense took the blame for the 35-7 loss to Baltimore.

"I don't care how people characterize parts of this team and things of that nature -- that's not my business," Tomlin said. "We are a work in progress based on the video evidence we put out there last Sunday."

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