By Christina Rivers
The week leading up to their meeting with the New York Jets has been one of change and a few surprise moves for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the youth-infusion, the Steelers took a step to look outside the box and brought in veterans to shore up their team. With just rookie receiver Markus Wheaton deemed ‘out’ for the game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, October 13, the Steelers will make a strong move to recover from a slow start during the 2013 NFL Season.
The bye-week was an evaluation period, but the Steelers used this week to get back on track and take charge. First, veteran offensive lineman Levi Brown was brought to Pittsburgh from the Arizona Cardinals. To bolster their defense, the Steelers released linebacker Kion Wilson, placed safety DaMon Cromartie-Smith on the waived/injured list and then reached out to former Steelers linebacker Stephenson Sylvester and safety Will Allen. Allen spent the first two games of the season with the Dallas Cowboys, recording nine tackles and one interception through five games. Sylvester, a fifth-round draft choice in 2010, was waived on August 25 when the Steelers were making room for the mandatory 75 players and was not picked up by another team.
“It was tough to leave,” said Allen. “I am grateful to come back and be around such a wonderful group of people.” The Steelers’ defensive secondary has been hurting, and Allen could be a big band-aid as well as a leader with experience. “I don’t know if I am the answer,” said Allen, “but I just want to contribute and give the best effort I can.”
Sylvester admitted that he had continued to keep in good enough shape that he could step in to an NFL team’s roster, but his shot to return to the Steelers was exciting. “It feels like I haven’t seen these guys in three years. It’s a great feeling,” said Sylvester. “I have been around here the last three years and to go away and come back, it’s good to see all of the guys again. I can’t wait until Sunday.”
Despite a finger injury on his throwing hand, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to start against the Jets. The finger hasn’t affected his performance in practice. He is listed as ‘probable’ on the injury report, but it is likely a precautionary statement. Roethlisberger’s favorite safety outlet, tight end Heath Miller, was limited in practice on Thursday per head coach Mike Tomlin’s request, but participated fully on Friday.
Although offensive guard Ramon Foster suffered a pectoral strain, he was able to participate fully in practice this week. Regarding his play, offensive coordinator Todd Haley deferred in his press conference Thursday, saying it would depend on Tomlin’s final decision. As for the left tackle position, Haley was more open. He said that there is the potential that both Levi Brown and Kelvin Beachum will play the position.
“Those are end of the week kinds of discussions,” said Haley. “The main thing was trying to get Levi up to speed one way or another, and at the same time get Beachum ready to go, and Mike Adams is working his backside off to get ready to go also.”
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was enthusiastic about the Steelers defense. He told the media that the team had to regroup, but added, “I think the guys have done a good job of that. We are all very anxious, and I am looking forward to seeing us play.”
Regarding Cameron Heyward getting more snaps on defense, LeBeau admitted, “We were just trying to balance the snaps up a little bit more. (Heyward) wasn’t getting enough snaps.” LeBeau said Ziggy Hood will still get plenty of time on the field as well. “We are going to use all those [defensive] linemen.” As for changes this week against the Jets, LeBeau reinforced the idea that the defense won’t change, but they have to improve. “Everybody has to keep focus and work at their own spot. They individually have to get better so that collectively we get better, and we can get this thing over the top and start winning games.”
S DaMon Cromartie-Smith (hip) – Waived/Injured
G Ramon Foster (pectoral strain) – Questionable
TE Heath Miller (knee) – Probable
QB Ben Roethlisberger (finger) – Probable
WR Markus Wheaton (finger) – Out
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on