Steelers notebook: Foster anxious to get back on the field
By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
Guard Ramon Foster, who had been the most durable of the Steelers' offensive linemen, said Friday he expects to be in the lineup Sunday when the Steelers travel to Cleveland to face the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“The plan right now is to go. I have a little rehab to do, but I'm feeling good,” said Foster, who is listed as probable. “I'm anxious to see how it reacts in the game. It's a little different for me, and I missed out there with the guys. I've had a couple of dings, but it's made me hungrier.”
Foster knows the Browns will be hungry Sunday, especially in their efforts to get after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“If you're on different pages, it can be a real debacle,” Foster said. “They can drop in coverage and just rush the guys up front.”
Keisel, Woodley questionable
Safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) and linebacker Stephenson Sylvester (hamstring) will sit out Sunday's game. Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) are both questionable. Keisel and Woodley were limited in practice.
Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip), tight end Heath Miller (not injury related), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and center Fernando Velasco (knee) are all probable.
Sanders' foot injury frightening
Sanders will try to play through a foot injury he suffered in Sunday's victory over the Lions.
“I wasn't panicking because I'm one of those guys who thinks everything happens for a reason,” Sanders said. “I've had so many problems with this foot that it's like, whatever. I just go with the flow, so whatever happens, happens.”
Even with a foot that might be less than 100 percent, Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton said Sanders could be as big a threat as Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery.
“Antonio is having an All-Pro year, but when they shift the coverage, I have to take the pressure off (Brown) and make them respect me,” Sanders said.
Browns aren't intimidated
The Steelers have owned the Browns the past 20 years, but Cleveland's first-year coach, Rob Chudzinski, said his team is excited about Sunday's key AFC North matchup.
“Our group of guys — we have so many young guys, rookie guys, and this team hasn't been together and hasn't played Pittsburgh, and that's the approach we're taking,” said Chudzinski, whose team has lost four of five. “They're an opponent that we need to play and play well and beat. We're going to do anything we can to do that.”
Steelers' schoolyard antics
Horton said he isn't worried that cornerbacks Joe Haden and Buster Skrine can defend the Steelers' receivers. He's more concerned about the Steelers when things break down.
“Their wide receivers strive on getting open after contact,” Horton said. “They create plays that are like schoolyard football plays. ... They make a ton of big plays that way.
A cluster of division games
Four of the Steelers' next four games are against division opponents. In contrast, the Browns have only two division games remaining — both against the Steelers.
“No matter where you play or who you play, we have to win,” Haden said. “This game is like a playoff game.”
Browns look to solve Roethlisberger hex
When told that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 15-1 against the Browns, Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson looked stunned.
“It's hard to believe,” he said. “He's had a remarkable career in Pittsburgh.”
The Steelers have been up and down, but Jackson is convinced Roethlisberger has helped turn things around.
“As of late, they've been back on track. So we know we're going to have our hands full,” Jackson said. “You can feel the intensity level rise with this rivalry. I usually have my best games against Pittsburgh.
Polamalu deflects praise
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu refused to get giddy over the Browns' high praise of him.
“He plays with passion, and he's someone I look up to,” Cleveland safety T.J. Ward said. “He doesn't talk a lot. He just makes plays. When watching film of teams the Steelers play, I take notice of what he's doing.”
The Browns' defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, served as an assistant with the Steelers.
“There's a lot of flexibility within the defense, and if T.J. doesn't know it now, he'll learn,” Polamalu said. “When you're dealing with (defensive) coordinators like (Dick) LeBeau and (Ray) Horton, they put you where the action is.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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