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Steelers notebook: 8-8 record leads to 17th pick in April's NFL Draft

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Christopher Horner
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel is one of the veterans of a defense that still has some bite after losing James Harrison and Casey Hampton.

'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
Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 4:48 p.m.
 

The Steelers will draft 17th in the first round, the highest they've selected since they chose linebacker Lawrence Timmons 15th overall in 2007. The draft order has been set for Nos. 1-20; the other 12 slots will be determined during the playoffs. The top six will be Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Detroit and Cleveland. Of the 20 teams that didn't reach the postseason, the Steelers had the easiest strength of schedule.

• Safety Ryan Clark was released from a hospital Monday after being kept overnight for precautionary reasons with a severely bruised quadriceps. Because Clark had two concussions during the season, he posted on Twitter from the hospital that his visit wasn't concussion-related.

• Defensive end Brett Keisel and cornerback Keenan Lewis won't need surgery to repair sprained medial collateral knee ligaments, and cornerback Ike Taylor (broken foot) and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs) also won't need an operation. Roethlisberger is a second alternate for the Pro Bowl but said he doesn't think he is healthy enough to play even if a slot opens up.

• Clark was impressed with how Lewis played hurt Sunday against Cleveland, even in a game with no playoff implications. “His play was a big reason why we finished No. 1 (in defense) — what he showed late in the season, being injured, we knew he was hurt but trying to go out and play,” Clark said. “That's what you want to see, the fact he wants to be on the field. It means a lot to us.”

• Cortez Allen, who replaced the injured Taylor as a starter in December, accounted for one-quarter of all the Steelers' takeaways in just the final two weeks of the season. But he's not ready to campaign for a starting job if Lewis leaves. “I don't know Keenan's plans, but always I go in and try to give my best effort with whatever I do and everything will fall in place,” Allen said Monday.

• Charlie Batch, the oldest quarterback to play for the Steelers, will be 39 next season — but still believes he can play and likely will seek a job for next season. The Steelers could choose to bring him back and then bring in two other younger quarterbacks for camp. One thing he's not yet ready to do is become an assistant coach, although some teammates believe he would be an effective quarterbacks coach.

— Alan Robinson

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