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Hood or Eason will start at defensive end against Dolphins

| Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

» With defensive end Brett Keisel out for Sunday's game against the Dolphins, Nick Eason or Ziggy Hood will take his place in the starting lineup. Eason got the initial nod when Keisel left the Browns game with a hamstring injury. "Both are capable," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Eason and Hood. "Both are going to play."

» Tomlin appears to be leaning against signing tackle Steve McLendon from the practice squad so the Steelers have six defensive linemen for the 1 p.m. game. McLendon played in two games earlier this season because of injuries to nose tackles Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke. "Six guys is probably more of a requirement in early September than it is in the latter part of October," Tomlin said. "Early on, you worry about conditioning."

» Tomlin said he is concerned about the heavy workload running back Rashard Mendenhall has shouldered through the first five games. Mendenhall, who is sixth in the NFL with 495 rushing yards, is tied with San Francisco's Frank Gore for the fourth-most carries (116) in the NFL. Mendenhall is on pace for 371 carries, which would be the third highest single-season total in Steelers history. "We had limited options here over the first month of the season," Tomlin said. "Hopefully, as we proceed, we'll find ways to lighten his load." Mendenhall will be limited in practice today, Tomlin said, because of a shoulder contusion.

» Starting right guard Trai Essex, who is still recovering from a high ankle sprain, is questionable for Sunday's game, Tomlin said. He is expected to practice on a limited basis today.

» Doug Legursky, who started the last three games at right guard, sustained a sprained knee against the Browns. Tomlin said the injury shouldn't limit him this week.

Tomlin's take

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's point of view on:

Outside linebacker James Harrison saying he likes to hurt though not injure opposing players:

"James says a lot of things he doesn't necessarily mean. He's a tough talker like a lot of guys that play the game at this level. If you want to get to know James, catch him on a Tuesday when he's walking through the building with his son. He's a big softie."

Whether Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown will serve as the Steelers' No. 4 wide receiver and kickoff returner Sunday in Miami:

"We're going to continue to pit those two young men against each other so that we can get the desired results that we want, which is third down conversions like (Sanders) has provided for us, which is quality kick returns like Antonio Brown has provided for us. They're both still growing and developing."

The Steelers' No. 24 NFL ranking in pass defense:

"We're not a finished product and we don't even pretend to be. We're a team that's getting better, and hopefully we can win games along the way. We're probably not going to be perfect in Miami, but we better be good enough to win."

Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who had 11 catches for 112 yards while playing for the Broncos against the Steelers last season:

"There's a lot of big receivers. What makes him unique is his ability to run after the catch. He's got little man's quickness in terms of his ability to drop his weight and change direction. He's got great balance. He's a tough guy to tackle once he catches it."

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