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Steelers notebook: McCoy presents tough test for Steelers

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Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
The Steelers' Troy Polamalu is expected to play Sunday against the Eagles.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy of Pitt is coming off a 123-yard game against the Giants and has two 100-yard performances this season. He could challenge a Steelers run defense that allowed Darren McFadden of Oakland to gain 113 yards two weeks ago.

“He's always looking for an alley way, and he's got a very sick cut move that's becoming known to every team that's playing him,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “It's going to take an 11-man effort on every play.”

The Steelers, 14th against the run, have not allowed consecutive 100-yard rushing games since 2002.

• Troy Polamalu smiled when he was asked if James Harrison is happy to be playing again, saying, “I don't know if ‘happy' is in his vocabulary.” The Steelers haven't confirmed whether Harrison will start Sunday, but he practiced again Thursday — the first time he has done so on consecutive days since last season. Harrison had left knee surgery nearly two months ago, but the knee acted up for weeks afterward. “Dealing with injuries is as much a part of this game as hitting and tackling, as coach (Mike) Tomlin always says,” Polamalu said.

• It's not just Harrison, Polamalu (calf) and Rashard Mendenhall (knee) who are expected to play. Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester also went through three days of practice and is likely to play for the first time since injuring a knee in training camp. Sylvester is one of the Steelers' most reliable special teams players, but — with everyone healthy — there is considerable competition to be one of the 46 in uniform on Sunday. “I felt like I was in prison the last six weeks,” he said. ”I've got to put out my case of why I should be out there.”

• Cornerback Keenan Lewis said the practices have a different feel with everyone available and Polamalu back in the secondary after missing two games. “When you have the best at what you do, that's a big advantage to everybody,” Lewis said. “Just to have him back, he'll help us tremendously. He's a big playmaker, and he puts us in the right position.”

• The offensive line was forcefully reminded — apparently by line coach Sean Kugler — that the Steelers are averaging only 2.6 yards per carry and 65 yards rushing per game, the second-worst numbers in the league. “We got a real truthful fact,” guard Ramon Foster said. “We are 31st in the league. It's a harsh reality, but it's something we have to take on.”

— Alan Robinson

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