Steelers notebook: Foster says team can’t afford ‘letdown’ now |

Steelers notebook: Foster says team can’t afford ‘letdown’ now

Steelers guard Ramon Foster figures the AFC North winner won’t be decided until the final weekend of the season. It’s imperative, he said Friday, for the Steelers to keep pace with division leader Cleveland.

“Right now, the AFC North is lot like the SEC West,” said Foster, referring to a showdown Saturday between No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Alabama. “There can’t be a letdown.”

• Safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and defensive tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) were held out of practice. Cornerbacks Cortez Allen (thumb) and Ike Taylor (forearm) and safety Shamarko Thomas were limited, while defensive end Brett Keisel (not injury related), linebacker Arthur Moats (not injury related) and safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) returned to practice.

• The Cardinals signed rookie defensive end Josh Mauro from the Steelers’ practice squad. The Steelers signed 6-foot-6, 282-pound rookie defensive end Ethan Hemer to the practice squad.

• Unlike Houston and Baltimore, there’s no player on the Tennessee defense that stands out. But what resonates most is that the Titans’ top three tacklers are defensive backs: safety Michael Griffin and cornerbacks Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Jason McCourty. “We have to approach it like every other game, because every team has good players,” tight end Heath Miller said. “I haven’t looked at too many rosters and said, ‘Hey, this is an easy game.’ ”

• Center Maurkice Pouncey said Steelers (6-4) are in a better place than they were this time last season. “I wish we had a won a few more games, but I think we’re fine where we’re at right now,” Pouncey said. “We’ve been doing a lot of good things, and we’ve been watching the things we can grow on. … If you look back at last year, we had lost the first four games and were 2-4. We’ve got to iron some things out, and we’ll be fine.”

• Rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt didn’t see much action Sunday, partly because he still is considered a liability against the run. The Jets are the third-best run team, so Tuitt played only seven snaps, which was his lowest total since Week 4 against Tampa Bay. “I didn’t get a chance to play much against the Jets,” Tuitt said, “but I showed I could take my game to the next level in the Baltimore game.”

— Ralph N. Paulk

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