Steelers notebook: Cornerbacks Allen, Lewis probable vs. Bengals
Cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis practiced Friday and are probable for Sunday's key AFC North game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Allen missed last week's game at Dallas with a groin injury, while Lewis left the Dallas game after aggravating a hip injury. “I'll be ready to go, and I've had a good week of practice,” said Allen, who stepped into the starting lineup after veteran Ike Taylor suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out for the third straight game. In addition, former NFL defensive players of the year James Harrison (illness) and Troy Polamalu (not injury related) are probable. Polamalu, who missed nine games with a calf injury, practiced for the first time this week, while Harrison was limited. Defensive ends Al Woods and Cam Heyward (not injury related), cornerback Curtis Brown (knee), center Maurkice Pouncey (illness) and receiver Emmanuel Sanders are probable. Offensive tackle Mike Adams was held out of practice after seeing limited duty earlier this week and is doubtful. Rookie Kelvin Beachum is expected make his fourth straight start at right tackle.
• Receiver Antonio Brown has done a number of things this season, but stretching the opponent's secondary hasn't been one of them. “I can't put a number on it, but my deep routes are way down from the last couple of years,” said Brown, who is averaging 11.3 yards on 59 receptions after netting 16.1 yards in 2011. “We've got to take advantage of every area of the field.” Brown expects the Bengals to show plenty of man coverage on early downs, an opportunity to test cornerbacks Terence Newman and Leon Hall. “The scheme is why I'm not running deeper routes,” he said, “but there are definitely opportunities.”
• Cornerback Keenan Lewis didn't commit to playing Sunday but said it'll take more than a bad hip to keep him from challenging Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green. “I'm all right,” he said repeatedly, brushing back questions of his availability. “It'll be hard not to play because I've been waiting on these chances for a long time. Everybody has been saying I guard the second- or third-best receiver. I feel like I can cover anybody in the league. No matter what nobody thinks, I feel like I'm the best.”
• While Steelers running backs carried 17 times each of the past two games, guard Ramon Foster said the offensive line hasn't gotten into a rhythm. “If we're in a rhythm, that means we're rolling them off the ball,” Foster said. “It's been the circumstances that have held the running game back. We've been behind. ... The last two games have been a matter of us being behind the eight ball, not that we haven't run the ball efficient.”
• The Steelers' run game has been up and down all season. There have been problems on the offensive line, but part of the problem has been a lack of rhythm — running backs aren't getting enough consecutive carries to get into a groove.
“As a running back you want the ball a few times in your hand,” said Jonathan Dwyer, who leads the team with 532 yards on 131 carries. “If you get the ball three or four times in a row, you get to come back later, you're already in a rhythm. We don't want it every single play, but you need to have a feel for the speed of the game.” This season, Dwyer's longest stretch of consecutive carries is five. “Most games we're winning, we're running the ball 30 plus times,” Isaac Redman said. “We want to get back to that.”
• Rookie defensive backs Josh Victorian and Robert Golden are confident and calm. The training camp roommates learned a great deal in defeat last week against Dallas. “The game is much faster and there's less margin for error,” Golden said. Victorian struggled in the first half but held his own in the second. “Going from the practice squad to the game was whole lot different,” Victorian said.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.