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Steelers notebook: LB Harrison doesn't practice; Mundy fined $21K

| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 4:59 p.m.

Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison still hasn't practiced on consecutive days since undergoing knee surgery in mid-August, a sign his return isn't imminent following the bye week.

Whenever he has exerted the knee, it fails to respond the following day. It's obvious the defense misses Harrison, who was optimistic Wednesday the knee might be improving after he went through a full practice the day before.

Safety Ryan Clark said the Steelers' defense is allowing too many big plays, such as Darren McFadden's 64-yard touchdown run Sunday.

“No one stepped up to make a big play to stop them from happening,” Clark said.

Mundy fined $21K

Safety Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 for his helmet-to-head hit that left Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey unconscious for several minutes Sunday in Oakland.

Heyward-Bey spent the night in a hospital with a concussion and a strained neck.

Mundy's fine came one week after linebacker Lawrence Timmons was fined $21,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Mundy is expected to appeal. He was not suspended.

Good time for bye

Eight possessions, eight scores. That's what the Broncos and Raiders accomplished against the Steelers in the second half, except for one meaningless kneel-down possession at the end of Denver's 31-19 win Sept. 9.

The inability to get off the field perplexes linebacker Larry Foote, who calls the defensive signals.

“I wouldn't have thought this would be a good week for a bye week,” Foote said, “but it'll be good for the guys to get away and look at themselves.”

Grateful for regular refs

Many Steelers are hopeful the NFL's regular officials will be on the field when they play again Oct. 7 against Philadelphia.

“No matter what we think about the replacement officials, the other officials aren't perfect, either,” Clark said. “But we'll be excited to get them back and get the guys who have been doing it for years out there again.”

Left guard Willie Colon said the players previously gave the officials “a lot of (heat) because we always thought they were bad refs, but to see what bad really looks like, we're appreciative of them.”

Give him a hand

If it appears Ben Roethlisberger is using more hand signals, a la Peyton Manning, it's because he is.

The signals are part of Todd Haley's offense, and Roethlisberger thinks the offense adjusted to them quickly.

“Not only did we have to learn new words (for the plays), but we had to learn new hand signals,” he said. “So that's been tricky, but I think we've done a good job. And I think you have to give credit to the wide receivers because they're the ones who have had to learn the most.”

Odds and ends

This is the first time since Week 6 in 2000 that the Steelers, Patriots, Saints and Packers are sub-.500 at the same time. … Despite their second-half failures in Denver and Oakland, the Steelers are second overall in AFC total defense. … Offensively, they are an NFL best in fourth-down conversions (3 of 4) but are last in the AFC on first downs (4.09 yards per play). … Mike Wallace leads the AFC in third-down receiving with seven catches for 121 yards. … No Steeler is in the top 25 in sacks. ... Roethlisberger had more than 300 yards passing and four touchdown passes in the same game Sunday for the first time in 117 career games. ... The Steelers have started 1-3 only three times in the past 21 seasons (2000, '02, '06). Since the 1970 NFL merger, they have been 1-3 eight times.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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