Notebook: Steelers' Stapleton works with offensive line
By Scott Brown
Thursday, October 2, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 91129.html
Darnell Stapleton, who is battling Trai Essex for the starting job at right guard, worked with the first-team offensive line Wednesday. Stapleton took over for Kendall Simmons at right guard Monday night after the latter left the game in the first half with a season-ending foot injury. "He did a good job," Essex said. "I'm confident if Darnell does get the nod he'll be able to go." Not that Essex, who is listed as a tackle but has also practiced at guard, is conceding anything. "You get in there and start and play well and you might be in there for the rest of the season," Essex said. When asked what it will take to win the starting job, Stapleton said, "I guess whoever has the better practices this week, even though we have a short week."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not rule out the possibility of moving Willie Colon from right tackle to right guard. Apparently, he has never broached the subject with Colon, who is the Steelers' starting right tackle. "That's the first time I've heard that," Colon said yesterday.
Would he be willing to make such a move? "Yeah," Colon said, "anything to help the team out."
Two days after the Steelers' 23-20 overtime win over the Ravens, Tomlin put the players through a light practice. The players did not wear full pads yesterday, and the Steelers' first practice of the week was about 15 minutes shorter than usual. Ten players were held out of the practice that the Steelers held indoors because of the weather.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), outside linebacker James Harrison (quadricep) and safety Troy Polamalu were among the Steelers who did not practice yesterday. Fullback Carey Davis (ankle), defensive end Nick Eason (groin) and linebackers Andre Frazier (concussion), Keyaron Fox (back) and Patrick Bailey (hamstring) also didn't practice because of injuries. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was limited in practice because of a sore neck. Wide receiver Hines Ward and left tackle Marvel Smith were given practice off by Tomlin.
The Steelers have traditionally drawn well on the road, and that has particularly been the case in Jacksonville. The Jaguars struggle to fill their own stadium, which means there should be no shortage of fans wearing black and gold Sunday night when the Steelers visit Jacksonville for an 8:15 p.m. game. "Sometimes it's hard to tell if we're at a home game or an away game when (the Steelers) come to town, lot of towels waving in the air," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said. "I really expect our fans to come out in droves for this game and support us."
Jeff Reed has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Reed kicked three field goals Monday night against the Ravens, including the game-winner in overtime. Reed made field goals of 49, 19 and 46 yards in the Steelers' 23-20 win over the Ravens. He hasn't missed a field goal in seven attempts this season and made a career-long 53-yarder against the Eagles on Sept. 21.
The Steelers signed defensive tackle Jordan Reffett and guard Doug Legursky to their practice squad yesterday. The Steelers made room on the practice squad by signing running back Gary Russell to their 53-man roster and releasing safety Grant Mason.
5.5 -- Sacks by outside linebacker James Harrison, which ranks first in the AFC and second in the NFL.
150 -- Consecutive games in which Hines Ward has caught at least one pass.
Scott Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-481-5432.