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Steelers notebook: TE Spaeth activated for stretch run

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 4:48 p.m.

Tight end Matt Spaeth, out since injuring a foot during training camp, was activated Saturday in time to play in the Steelers' final four games.

Spaeth was placed on the designated to return injured reserve list at the start of the season. He was expected to be out eight to 10 weeks after suffering a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot but ended up being out of uniform for more than four months.

Spaeth was a Steelers third-round pick who returned to them this season after spending the previous two seasons with the Chicago Bears. He is considered to be one of the NFL's better blocking tight ends and was expected to help ease them through Heath Miller's early-season layoff following major knee surgery.

To make room for Spaeth on the 53-man roster, the Steelers released tight end Richard Gordon. He never played after signing on Oct. 15, after tight end David Johnson was lost for the season with an injury. Gordon injured a toe immediately after joining the Steelers and wasn't activated for a game after recovering.

Spaeth has 49 catches and eight touchdowns in 91 games. His career high was 17 catches with Pittsburgh in 2008.

Is Keisel done?

Has defensive end Brett Keisel played his 138th and final game with the Steelers?

Keisel, unsigned for next season, sat out two games with a right foot injury before returning against Baltimore. He lasted only eight plays before taking what coach Mike Tomlin called “a step backward” and leaving the game.

Whether Keisel, 35, can take a step forward and return with three regular-season games remaining after Sunday is uncertain. He is suffering from plantar fasciitis, which might sideline him for weeks.

Terrific Tannehill

Miami's Ryan Tannehill sometimes doesn't get mentioned alongside the other more-publicized members of the NFL quarterback class of 2012, including Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. But he threw for 331 yards in beating the Jets, 23-3, and he will be trying Sunday at Heinz Field for his third straight 300-yard game.

“I see a quarterback on the rise, definitely,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He has great timing, he's very good mentally, he sees the field well and he knows the timing of his routes. He's been very well coached.”

Tannehill (3,115 yards) is the first Dolphins QB to throw for at least 3,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

Big numbers

Ben Roethlisberger's next TD pass will give him a team-record 213 and move him out of a tie with Terry Bradshaw.

Roethlisberger's 3,375 yards passing are the most through 12 games in team history. He is on pace to throw for a franchise-record 4,500 yards.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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