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Steelers interested in Bills' tackle Demetrius Bell

| Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Steelers hosted their first free agent since the signing period began when Buffalo Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell visited Friday.

Whether the Steelers did more than just dip their toe into free agency waters remains to be seen. They will have competition if they want to sign Bell.

The 6-5, 311-pounder has drawn interest from a handful of teams, including the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. The Philadelphia Eagles may make a push to sign Bell with Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters out indefinitely. Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon, and the Eagles, according to multiple reports, will host Bell for a visit this weekend.

Bell, 27, has started parts of the past two seasons for the Bills, but he only played in seven games in 2011 because of a knee injury. Bell is entering the prime of his career, and the fourth-year veteran has played well enough when healthy to make him one of the top free agent tackles.

Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler worked with Bell for two seasons before leaving Buffalo in 2010.

The Steelers are not equipped to do serious bidding on Bell.

They are believed to be $6 million to $8 million under the salary cap, and they want to re-sign a handful of their own free agents, including receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

The Steelers plan to move Marcus Gilbert from right tackle to left tackle with Willie Colon returning from a triceps injury. They also have Jonathan Scott, the team's No. 3 tackle for much of last season.

Cotchery to visit Ram s

Cotchery, who provided depth and veteran leadership last season, is scheduled to visit the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday.

Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer coached Cotchery for five seasons when the two were with the New York Jets.

General manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this week he is optimistic the Steelers will re-sign Cotchery.

The eight-year veteran is seeking a multiyear deal.

"Communication with the Steelers has been consistent and ongoing," said Cotchery's agent, Jack Scharf.

Cotchery caught 16 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Steelers meet with college prospect

The Steelers hosted another predraft visitor, meeting with Miami (Ohio) guard Brandon Brooks.

The 6-5, 346-pound Brooks did not get invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he opened eyes at Miami's Pro Day with his strength and speed.

The Steelers are allowed to host 30 out-of-area prospects before the draft, which is April 27-29. They previously met with Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, Florida International receiver T.Y. Hilton and Cincinnati defensive end Derek Wolfe.

The Steelers also met with Zach Nolan yesterday. Nolan was Stanford's long snapper from 2008-10.

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