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Steelers' Sanders sidelined with ailing foot

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By Scott Brown
Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011
 

One man's misfortune is another man's good fortune.

That's the way Antonio Brown looks at it, even though the misfortune happened to one of his closest friends.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will miss at least the next three weeks, including the first two preseason games, after undergoing a minor surgical procedure on his left foot Monday to help expedite healing of the foot that he had surgery on in April.

"It's a minor setback for a major comeback," Sanders said. "That's what I keep telling myself. I'll be OK. The good thing is I've been studying the playbook this whole summer and I'm getting mental reps, so I think I'll come back."

Sanders broke his right foot during Super Bowl XLV. He developed a stress fracture in his left foot over the next few months that required surgery.

Steelers trainer John Norwig recommended that Sanders sit out the first week of training camp because the receiver was still dealing with soreness. Sanders lasted one practice before Mike Tomlin shut him down Sunday.

Sanders had an injection of bone marrow and calcium in his foot to help promote healing. He was in a protective boot and using crutches yesterday.

"It looks a lost worse that it is," said Sanders, who caught 28 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

"Hopefully he will get back to us here soon, but I am not ready to frame it at this juncture," Tomlin said.

The Steelers will turn to Brown, a second-year receiver out of Central Michigan.

"Emmanuel is my brother," Brown said. "He will be back in the lineup soon, but right now I have to take advantage of my opportunity."

Brown played in 12 games as a rookie, including three in the playoffs. He finished with 21 catches but came up with a pair of game-altering plays in the postseason to help the Steelers beat Baltimore and the New York Jets.

Still, Brown had limited reps during the season and is still learning the slot receiver position.

"I have to gain the confidence in my coaches," Brown said. "I have to take the mental reps and be in the spots they want me to be and take advantage of the reps I am getting now. Last year I was thrown in and was able to make some big plays, but never really on-beat with (Ben Roethlisberger)."

Brown plans to take full advantage of the extra reps with Sanders sidelined, and that started during yesterday's practice.

Brown ran with the first team Tuesday and made a couple of acrobatic touchdown catches during team drills and 7-on-7.

"This is a golden opportunity for me," Brown said. "The first couple practices I was off a little here and there, but I am continuing to get better."

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