Steelers notebook: Benching startles defensive end Hood
• Defensive end Ziggy Hood was startled at losing his starting job to Cam Heyward, who has nine quarterback pressures to Hood's three.
“I have no idea,” Hood said of whether his benching resulted from the 0-4 start. “I'm just a player. I just work here. Orders were given and I have to follow them.” Heyward will make only his second career start in 37 games Sunday at the Jets. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor told Hood and benched left tackle Mike Adams it helped his career when former coach Bill Cowher sat him down in 2006.
“I went through it. And I'm still here, two Super Bowls later,'' Taylor said. “The one thing you don't want to do is change your attitude or change your demeanor.”
• The Jets are 17-20 since losing to the Steelers in the 2010 season AFC Championship Game, but Ben Roethlisberger said their No. 2-ranked defense remains a force. “It reminds you of ours and the old Baltimore (defense),” Roethlisberger said. “Mixing things around, showing all kinds of different looks, blitzing. … Sometimes you look at things and you're like, ‘Did he (Jets coach Rex Ryan) just draw that up literally on the sidelines?' He's that good.” Ryan is the former Ravens defensive coordinator.
• Wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are on pace for big seasons — Brown projects to 128 catches and Sanders to 80 in his first season as a starter. The sparse running game is partly the reason, but Brown has 21 catches and two TDs in his last two games. “We're right around the corner where we need to be (offensively), and what better game than this Sunday?” Sanders said.
• The Steelers are 10th defensively after leading the NFL the last two seasons, but Jets coach Rex Ryan said that won't last long. “We know we're going to end up first, second or third in the league every year. It's the same way with a Dick LeBeau defense,” Ryan said. “Historically, and not bragging, but myself and Dick LeBeau are going to be in the top three, generally, every year.”
• Despite that lower-than-usual ranking, the Steelers' defense retains its “swagger,” according to Taylor. Troy Polamalu doesn't disagree but says, “If attitude won games, we'd go get a lot of cheerleaders. We also have to perform and execute, and we haven't executed well.”
• The Jets are one of the few teams that occasionally crowds the line of scrimmage with 10 defenders.“It's not easy,” Roethlisberger said. “If you can just get a little bit of time and get the ball off, you're good. The key is blocking it up and giving yourself just a second of time.”
• The Steelers still haven't forced a turnover, but Jets rookie QB Geno Smith has 11 — eight interceptions and three fumbles. But he impresses Taylor. “To play quarterback in this league, you've got to have a demeanor and he does,” Taylor said. “He really likes himself, regardless of what people are saying about him, inside (the organization) or out.”
• Defensive back Will Allen, cut by the Cowboys this week, was at the Steelers' practice complex Wednesday, but it wasn't certain if he might return.
• Tight end Matt Spaeth (Lisfranc injury) is eligible to return to practice next week. He is on the injured reserve list that allows a player to return during the season.
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