Steelers notebook: Foster misses another practice, likely out Sunday
Left guard Ramon Foster (high ankle sprain) remained out of practice Thursday and is expected to be replaced Sunday by Guy Whimper.
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip), right guard David DeCastro (ankle) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) were limited along the beat-up offensive line.
Center Fernando Velasco (knee) returned to practice.
Of the many injuries, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said, “We're kind of numb to it right now. Everybody has got their own problems. Nobody cares about ours.”
• Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) and defensive end Brett Keisel (ankle) also were out, so practice Friday likely will determine if they can play. “We hope for the best and expect the worst,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “We will be able to play either way.”
• The Lions protect quarterback Matthew Stafford (10 sacks) even better than Broncos do Peyton Manning (13 sacks). Stafford wasn't sacked in a 21-19 win over the Bears, who roughed up the Steelers, 40-23. “He's probably one of the top five quarterbacks in the league,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “You want to talk about stats, he has stats every year; quarterback rating, throwing for yards and touchdowns.”
• Reggie Bush's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield creates extra layers of problems for a defense that also must contend with Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Bush has 623 yards rushing and a 4.7 average and 34 receptions for a 10.1 yard-per-catch average. “(We've got to) pressure them a little bit and get them to do some things they're not comfortable doing,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “It's going to be a mix of coverage and a lot of different stuff throughout the game,”
• LeBeau is resigned to Pro Bowl WR Johnson making a few catches. “If you play well, you can keep him from dominating,” LeBeau said. “That's what we have to do. I don't think anybody has any magic coverage to put one player on him, because there are 11 of them out there and five are eligible to catch the ball. ... He will get our attention.”
• Coach Mike Tomlin and Haley continue to praise tight end Heath Miller, who remains less than a year removed from a serious knee injury. He had only one catch against Buffalo on Sunday. “Heath is at the front of the line with whatever it takes to win,” Haley said.
• Ben Roethlisberger's 35 sacks are the second most in the NFL, and his 31 overthrows lead all quarterbacks. Coach Mike Tomlin's explanation for the Steelers' inability to reliably protect him, which forces him to rush some throws? “Not having continuity in the offensive line, us trying to throw the ball vertically down the field because of down and distance situations, him trying to create and maximize opportunities. Pick one,” Tomlin said. Stafford has been sacked only 10 times, so getting to him will be a challenge. “If we limit the things they like to do. ... and get them behind the sticks, it will open up our defense to do the things we like to do,” Jones said.
• It is largely forgotten, but the Steelers played their first and only postseason game in the pre-Super Bowl era against the Lions in the 1962 season, losing 17-10 in the Playoff Bowl in Miami. With only one playoff game at the time — the NFL championship game — the league decided to play a meaningless game matching its two conference runners-up the week after its championship game, mostly to give CBS another televised game. That game was memorable to the Steelers because it marked the first time they wore black helmets with the steel industry logo. It also was the last game of Hall of Fame QB Bobby Layne's career.
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