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Steelers notes: Vance McDonald ruled out for opener, Antonio Brown on Nike/Kaepernick |

Steelers notes: Vance McDonald ruled out for opener, Antonio Brown on Nike/Kaepernick

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers corner back Mike Hilton defends on a pass intended for tight end Vance McDonald in the seven shots drill during practice Sunday, July 29, 2018 at Saint Vincent College.

Tight end Vance McDonald did not practice Friday and will not play in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season opener Sunday.

McDonald sat out most of training camp because of a foot injury, barely practicing and not playing in any of the four preseason games. But he returned to practice in a limited capacity over the past week-plus, and as recently as Monday expressed optimism he could play once the regular season opened.

But after being a practical participant in practice Wednesday, his on-field week was over.

Jesse James will serve as the No. 1 tight end, just as the four-year veteran did each of the past two season openers. Xavier Grimble is the only other tight end on the active roster.

McDonald has never played more than 14 games in any of his five NFL seasons and is averaging less than 12 per season. After being acquired by the Steelers less than two weeks prior to last season’s opener, four separate injuries limited him to 10 games in 2017.

A career game (10 catches, 112 yards) in the January playoff loss stoked optimism McDonald could break out this season after a year in the Steelers’ offense.

**Brown “a Nike guy”**

Antonio Brown initially did not seem comfortable answering a question about Nike’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick as a paid endorser and centerpiece of a new marketing campaign.

“I mean, what you want me to say?” Brown said when asked about the relationship between Nike – with whom Brown has a lucrative business arrangement – and Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner in 2016 ignited a national debate and has left Kaepernick unsigned the past two seasons.

Pressed further, Brown smiled wide and said: “I love Nike. I’m a Nike guy.”

Hey, Steeler Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here .

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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