Vance McDonald returned to game action Sunday. That he didn’t return completely to his former role was part of the plan.
The tight end did not start and played 45 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive snaps in their 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was McDonald’s first game of any kind since he had a career-best 10 catches in the Steelers’ playoff loss to Jacksonville last January.
McDonald missed from the fourth practice of training camp all the way through until last week (he practiced fully for the first time last Wednesday) because of a foot injury. The Steelers intend to gradually ramp up his workload.
“The plan was just all about health,” McDonald said. “Just trying to get successful weeks stacked on top of each other just to build. Get out of the game healthy to be able to go into this week same approach as last week and just build on it.”
McDonald said he emerged from the game healthy and intends on a full, uninhibited week of practice in advance the game next Monday night in Tampa.
Against the Chiefs, he played 37 snaps, getting targeted by five Ben Roethlisberger passes and catching three for 26 yards.
Jesse James started the game, played 45 snaps and had a career-high 138 receiving yards on five catches with a touchdown.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.