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Steelers notebook: Keisel, Lewis sidelined by knee injuries

| Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 6:34 p.m.

Injuries mounted again for the Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field. Cornerback Keenan Lewis and defensive end Brett Keisel suffered knee injuries and were among four players knocked out against the Cleveland Browns.

Also, rookie guard David DeCastro suffered a stinger (shoulder) and did not return. He was replaced by Doug Legursky. Rookie offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms and was replaced at right tackle by left guard Ramon Foster.

Lewis hobbled off the field after defending a deep pass to receiver Joe Gordon on the Browns' first possession. He then left the game after giving up a 13-yard pass to Travis Benjamin. Rookie Josh Victorian replaced Lewis.

Keisel injured his right knee after getting tangled up with defensive end Ziggy Hood late in the second quarter following a fumble recovery by Lawrence Timmons. Cam Heyward, the team's No. 1 pick in 2011, replaced Keisel.

• Cleveland defensive tackle Phil Taylor likely will be fined by the NFL for delivering a blow to Beachum, who was trailing running back Jonathan Dwyer. The new NFL rules protect offensive linemen from unnecessary hits. Beachum was diagnosed with a concussion. “It was late, blatant and classless,” offensive lineman Max Starks said. “This is about a defenseless player, and it falls into that gray area. No referee saw it, but he can still be fined.”

• Linebacker James Harrison said he hasn't changed his aggressive style even though he prefers to tackle below the waist. Yet, he was called for a helmet-to-helmet blow to Cleveland quarterback Thad Lewis after Lewis tossed a 7-yard scoring pass to Greg Little that tied the score, 10-10. Harrison was suspended one game last season for a similar blow on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy.

• The Steelers came into the game minus-14 in takeaways. They had four against Cleveland. Safety Troy Polamalu had an interception, while Hood, Timmons and cornerback Cortez Allen had fumble recoveries.

• The Steelers will finish with the No. 1 ranked defense for the second year in a row. “It's one of the main things we want to fight to do,” Harrison said.

• Tight end Leonard Pope finished with an excellent reception-to-TD ratio. Pope scored for the second time this season on just his third catch, a 1-yarder that put the Steelers up, 10-3.

— Ralph N. Paulk

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