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Steelers notebook: Colon taking latest injury hard

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Left guard Willie Colon, who had knee surgery Monday, is understandably upset at getting hurt for a third consecutive season, teammate Ramon Foster said.

Colon missed the 201 season and played in only one game in '11 but started 11 games this season. He might not play again this season.

“I know he is probably in a rut right now, as anybody would be,” Foster said. “We have definitely been hitting him up on text. You can tell it is bothering him.”

• Cornerback Keenan Lewis, slowed by a hip flexor, and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (shoulder) returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Linebacker James Harrison (illness), cornerbacks Ike Taylor (ankle) and Cortez Allen (groin), offensive tackles Mike Adams (ankle) and Colon (knee) and safety Troy Polamalu (rest day) were out. Taylor, Adams and Colon already were ruled out. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle) was full go for a second consecutive day and appears ready to return after being out for two games. “I feel great,” he said.

• Offensive tackle Max Starks is intrigued by the rumblings the NFL is weighing whether to add more teams to the playoffs. Currently, 12 qualify. There is talk of going to 16. “It will give more teams the opportunity to get into the playoffs. The question is what would be the structure, how many extra teams you are talking about adding and how many games you are talking about adding?” Starks said. “That's something where we don't really have much of a say.”

• Many players enjoy watching the Thursday night games, especially because they rarely see any game but their own when they play road games on Sunday. But Polamalu wasn't aware that division rival Cincinnati played in Philadelphia on Thursday night. He has been spending nights watching Cowboys game video, saying, “That's my football.” Polamalu probably won't practice the rest of the season to avoid putting extra stress on his calf, but he doesn't think sitting out affects him on Sunday. “I've had years where I went almost the entire year without practicing,” Polamalu said.

• The Steelers are 3-0 this season and 12-2 in their last 14 against the NFC. They last swept their four-game interconference schedule in 2004. Mike Wallace has 10 touchdowns in 15 career games against NFC opponents.

• With one more win, the Steelers (7-6) will win at least eight games for the ninth consecutive season. The Patriots are the only other team to do so since 2004.

• One day after Ben Roethlisberger asserted his leadership by publicly challenging his teammates to play better in Dallas than they did while losing badly to San Diego, tackle Max Starks confirmed the quarterback is the vocal leader of the offense. Until recent seasons, Roethlisberger often deferred to the Steelers' numerous veterans. You have guys like Larry Foote, James Harrison and Brett Keisel, those are probably your defensive vocal guys,” Starks said. “I think on offense you have more of a Ben-type. … I don't need to give a rah-rah speech. Let your play dictate itself over anything else.

“Heath (Miller) is also one of those guys that is a consummate professional and shows you how to do it; not a lot of words but plays bigger than his voice.”

• This will be Steelers' first regular-season game in Dallas since they won there, 24-20, in 2004. They haven't won successive games there since 1962-63, when both teams belonged to the NFL Eastern Conference. The Steelers have won their last two against the Cowboys, in '04 and '08. The teams met three times in the Super Bowl, during the 1975, '78 and '95 seasons.

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