Steelers notebook: Offensive line still aching
By Alan Robinson
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 8:36 p.m.
None of the Steelers' five offensive line starters went through a full practice Wednesday.
Left guard Ramon Foster (high-ankle sprain), who is expected to miss the Detroit Lions' game Sunday, and center Fernando Velasco (knee) sat out practice. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip), right guard David DeCastro (ankle) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) were limited.
Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) also did not practice.
Eye on Suh
The offensive line injuries are a concern given the physicality of a Lions' defensive line led by tackle Ndamukong Suh. Still, Detroit has only 15 sacks, one fewer than the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger's game plan against Suh? “Try not to upset him,” Roethlisberger said. “Obviously he's gotten penalties in the past and has been fined and things like that. I've never had a chance to play against him. After the game, we can talk about how I feel about it.”
No prizes for 2nd place
Asked about the Lions' relatively few sacks, coach Jim Schwartz said, “They don't give out trophies at the end of the year for the most number of sacks, or any other stat, other than who wins that last game (the Super Bowl). That's what we try to keep our eye on. You can't always affect how many sacks you get.”
Stafford settling in
The Lions protect quarterback Matthew Stafford (10 sacks) even better than Denver Broncos do Peyton Manning (13 sacks).
Stafford wasn't sacked during a 21-19 win over the Chicago Bears, who roughed up the Steelers, 40-23, earlier this season in Pittsburgh.
“He's probably one of the top five quarterbacks in the league,” cornerback Ike Taylor said of Stafford. “You want to talk about stats, he has stats every year: quarterback rating, throwing for yards and touchdowns. It's just now he's getting more comfortable, more confident.”
Ryan Clark was disappointed with the NFL Network report that Roethlisberger might ask the Steelers to trade him at some point.
“Winning football teams, (teams where) things are going well, you don't deal with those type of reports, situations,” Clark said. “When you're losing, those things happen. It's unfortunate it happened. It really dampened what was a solid win for us (over Buffalo) and a solid week.”
With the Steelers having three home games in December and four more games against the AFC North, linebacker Larry Foote is cautiously optimistic following the 23-10 win over Buffalo.
“We've got a lot of home games,” Foote said. “So we've just got to keep winning.”
Johnson in ‘league of his own'
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said Detroit Lions star Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is the most imposing receiver he has faced in his 11 NFL seasons. Johnson has nine touchdown catches and a 17.1-yards-per-reception average.
“He's in a league of his own,” Taylor said. “There's no comparison.”
Not even with Randy Moss, who caught 23 TD passes for New England in 2007?
“Megatron is more of a jumper. Randy didn't get off his feet too many times,” Taylor said. “Randy outran coverages. Calvin will do the same thing, but with a 6-foot-5 frame, 230 (pounds), he doesn't mind going across the middle. Throw it deep to him, and (he'll) jump up and catch it at the high point, two or three people around him. That's what makes him Megatron.”
Brown reaches out
Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace is off to a rough start (41st in receptions, one TD catch) in the first season of his $60 million contract, so former Steelers teammate Antonio Brown texted him a good-luck message Wednesday.
“I think he's handling things well. I told him to have fun — and let him know he's one of the best when he's out there having fun and being positive,” said Brown, who leads the NFL with 67 catches. “I just reminded him to get back to that. He's a great player … a great dude to be around.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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