Steelers notebook: Defense has a retro feel
With Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu listed as probable and expected to play Sunday against New Orleans, the Steelers defense is beginning to have a retro feel.
It will be the first game this season in which Taylor, Polamalu, linebacker James Harrison (signed two days after Taylor broke his arm) and Brett Keisel (signed toward the end of training camp) will be active for the same game. They are the oldest players on the team, each playing at least 11 seasons with the Steelers.
Add cornerback William Gay and linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and the Steelers have much of the defensive core from their most recent Super Bowl-winning intact.
“There’s a lot of the old guys from that group here, and it’s a good feeling,” Timmons said. “We won a lot of games with those guys, and they’re also showing the young guys the way to go about football and the Steeler Way. So we’re very grateful for this group, and I’m just glad to be part of it.”
• With Marcus Gilbert (ankle) sitting out practice for the second consecutive day Friday, Mike Adams appears likely to make his second start of the season at right tackle. “I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play,” Adams said after running with the first-team offense. Gilbert officially was listed as questionable.
• Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) was listed as questionable for only the third time in the past nine games. “Still a little sore,” he said. “I go through ups and downs, but it’s feeling pretty good. Going to have to wait until the game I guess. … I feel like whenever you play football — you could have a broken leg — you feel like you’re (able to play). … It’s just when (trainers and coaches) feel like I’m ready.”
• The Saints have a relatively quiet injury report. Only two little-used reserves have been ruled out (running back Khiry Robinson and linebacker Kyle Knox), and there are no players listed as questionable or doubtful. Running back Pierre Thomas, receiver Robert Meachem, linebacker Curtis Lofton and cornerback Keenan Lewis are considered probable.
• There’s no doubt New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham is a matchup nightmare for defenses, especially in the red zone. The former Miami (Fla.) basketball player has used his 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame and deceptive speed to score nine touchdowns, tied for most among tight ends with New England’s Rob Gronkowski. The Steelers secondary could be in for a long day at Heinz Field on Sunday if Graham finds the matchups he’s seeking. The Baltimore Ravens kept Graham under wraps for much of the game Monday by having their linebackers rough him up at the line of scrimmage. But Graham was too much for Baltimore in the red zone. He scored twice to keep the Saints within reach in a game they lost 34-27. For all the talk about Graham, the Steelers are focused primarily on shutting down the Saints’ ground game. If running backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas (who is expected back from a shoulder injury) can have success, it opens up the passing game. “I think they will take more than a couple of shots downfield,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said.