Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski activated
• Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who began training camp on the physically unable to perform list with an injury to his throwing shoulder, was activated Sunday. Gradkowski served as Ben Roethlisberger's backup the past two seasons. Gradkowski appears certain to hold onto his job, in part, because third-year quarterback Landry Jones hasn't performed well enough in the preseason to push him. “Bruce had been working quite bit at the end of last week,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “The reason we didn't bring him back last week because it was a short week.” Gradkowski played in two games last season — including the AFC wild-card game against rival Baltimore in which he completed 2 of 3 passes for 22 yards. Gradkowski's return could signal the departure of either Tajh Boyd or Tyler Murphy. Boyd has yet to take a snap in preseason losses to Minnesota and Jacksonville.
• Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who sat out last Friday's game with a toe injury, sat out Wednesday's practice. When asked about Timmons' injury, which kept him out of practice Sunday, Tomlin said “I wouldn't tag significant on it (injury). I like Lawrence.”
• Safety Mike Mitchell participated in contact drills for the first time during training camp at St. Vincent. He had been saddled by a hamstring injury. Also, safety Robert Golden returned to practice nearly a week after suffering a knee injury. Recently acquired wide receiver David Nelson left practice with a left shoulder injury.
• Defensive tackle Daniel McCullers returned to the practice field after a short absence with a hamstring injury. He participated in scrimmage drills, but defensive line coach John Mitchell had him dial it back. “I'm not going full blast yet,” said McCullers, who injured his hamstring during the NFL Combine last year. “Hopefully, I'll be full at speed by the end of the week.”
• Tight end Cameron Clear is recovering from minor surgery to his right knee. Steelers' team physician discovered loose bone debris in his right knee, which he said was a result of rapid growth. He went from 5-foot-9 to 6-5 in one year as a teenager. “It's been sitting there for years,” Clear said. “It was kind of weird, but it didn't bother any ligaments or muscles. They pulled out the bone and now I'm waiting for the stitches to heal. It bothers you mentally, but it's a minor setback. I'll be ready to go in a couple of days.”