Reporting Jim Colony
LATROBE, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) — The second tour of duty for Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress has been halted before he gets to face one of his old teams, as the 36-year-old now faces a career-threatening rotator cuff tear, per multiple reports.
Burress went up for a deep pass sandwiched between two defenders and looked like he had it, but it was knocked away as he hit the ground hard with his elbow and shoulder taking the brunt of the blow. He got up slowly and walked away but later left the field on a cart.
Some time later, he was seen watching practice with his right arm in a sling.
Burress, in his first five years with his original employer, made 261 receptions for 4,164 yards and 22 TD’s. The Steelers brought him back as a late-season substitute in 2012, and he caught three passes for 48 yards and one score.
It’s something of an emotional blow to the team. Burress had taken fellow Michigan State alumnus Le’Veon Bell under his wing, and Bell has had a productive camp. On the depth chart, however, a number of receivers, including rookie Markus Wheaton, appear ready to exceed him.
Meanwhile, with Heath Miller on the PUP list for the foreseeable future, and back-up Matt Spaeth dealing with a foot injury, the Steelers are low on tight ends, so today they signed Nathan Overbay (6’5″, 270 lbs.) out of Eastern Washington.
Overbay–oddly enough, the nephew of former Pirates first baseman Lyle Overbay–has tried out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions, among others, the past two years.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders did not practice, nor did defensive end Cameron Heyward. Wheaton and Jerricho Cotchery got most of the reps Sanders normally would have taken, and the former made a slick move for a touchdown in the final practice period during a red zone drill.
Our own Jim Colony from The Fan Morning Show (weekdays 5:40-10:00 A.M. on KDKA-FM) caught up with another receiver: return specialist Reggie Dunn, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent after making First Team All-Pac 12 with Utah as a senior:
Head coach Mike Tomlin was not able to talk about the practice injuries because he talked only before practice today.
However, he did reveal he wants to use all of his quarterbacks during the preseason opener against the Giants Saturday at 7:30 on KDKA-TV, including rookie fourth-round pick Landry Jones, the former Big 12 career passing yardage champion.
“The throwing of the football or the mechanics of the position are not going to be foreign to him. But playing the game in a stadium, with a live rush and those things [will be],” Tomlin said. “We’re going to find out a lot about where he is.”
Tomlin also said Bell, the team’s 2013 second-round draftee at running back, could get some first-team reps.
“Don’t be surprised if you see Le’Veon getting some snaps with those guys. He’s earned that. He, like a lot of guys, we need to get exposure to.”
Marcus Gilbert will start at right tackle with Mike Adams on the left side, a recent flip-flop on the offensive line.
“I’m not ready to say it’s permanent,” Tomlin said. ”I do believe it has produced some positive results. We’ll see how it looks inside a stadium and go from there.”
Georgia product Jarvis Jones, the highest-drafted linebacker ever by a franchise that has produced some all-time greats at the position, will wear the Steelers jersey for the first time.
“He’s doing some nice things. He needs to stay on the field more. But when on the field, it’s obvious that he’s productive and aware and instinctual,” Tomlin said. “He’s got talent. He should; we took him in the first round.”
“It’s just an opponent. I hadn’t thought a lot about the nameless, gray faces on the other sideline,” Tomlin said of the Giants, adding he expects starters to play 10-12 snaps.
On a lighter note, Tomlin recorded a video with Internet sensation “Pittsburgh Dad” after practice. ”Pittsburgh Dad” also “interviewed” players outside the cafeteria at lunch time.
Among his victims were Pittsburgh natives John Malecki and Ross Ventrone, plus Shawn Suisham and Ike Taylor, who stole the show.