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Steelers notebook: Players unfazed by Burfict's disdain

| Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, 10:33 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown makes a catch in front of the Browns' Don Jones during the third quarter Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Cleveland.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers place kicker Chris Boswell plays against the Browns Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015

Vontaze Burfict fired the first shot over the bow in the war of words when he told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday, “I hate Pittsburgh.”

The Steelers on Thursday responded with … well, not much of anything.

“That's bad because we are such great guys over here,” guard Ramon Foster said with a smile. “I honestly don't know why they hate us. I don't know. Maybe it is something personal, but it is just a game.”

Tight end Heath Miller was more diplomatic.

“If that's the way he feels, that's the way he feels,” Miller said. “We know he is going to be ready to play not because he hates Pittsburgh but because this is the playoffs and he's trying to get to the next round like we are.”

Then you had James Harrison.

“It just means he doesn't like Pittsburgh,” Harrison said.

The teams have been relatively quiet leading up to Saturday's wild-card playoff game in Cincinnati.

The last time the two teams played, on Dec. 13, there were words exchanged via social media, before the game in a pregame scuffle, during the game that partly led to 10 fines being handed out for $147,000 and also after the game.

Williams still sidelined

Running back DeAngelo Williams didn't practice for the second consecutive day, but he continues to make progress with his injured foot he suffered against the Browns — likely not enough to play Saturday.

Williams did not have the walking boot on for the second consecutive day and didn't have a noticeable limp.

Williams also was riding a stationary bike.

The Steelers won't reveal Williams' status for the wild-card game against the Bengals until Friday, but it doesn't look optimistic.

“He said he is feeling better, but he has been real scarce with us,” Foster said. “I am starting to question our friendship.”

If Williams can't go, Fitzgerald Toussaint will likely start, but Jordan Todman will also see action.

Todman has more experience than Toussaint, having played five years with five teams.

“Fitz is getting most of the reps, but they are young guys so both have to get reps,” Foster said.

“Todman is capable and he's fast, I know that much. If he hits the edge, he has a shot at taking it yard. Of all the backs in that group, I think he can do that.”

Brown, Boswell honored

The Steelers had a December to remember, and so did wide receiver Antonio Brown and kicker Chris Boswell.

Brown was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month and Boswell AFC Special Teams Player of the Month, the league announced.

Brown led the NFL in December/January in receptions (51), receiving yards (642) and receptions for first downs (34), while recording five touchdown catches.

Brown also had at least 100 yards in three of the five games during that span, including two 180-yard games.

Brown finished the season with 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also won the player of the month award in November.

Boswell earned his first special teams player of the month honors after making a league-best 12 field goals in December/January.

Boswell, who signed before a Week 5 game in San Diego, was the only player to total 50 or more points during the final month of the season in which the Steelers went 4-1 to qualify for the playoffs.

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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