Coach Mike Tomlin already had ruled out six players for the first preseason game Friday night against the Washington Redskins, but he will have to add another to the injury list.
Rookie running back Baron Batch, their seventh-round draft choice who had been one of the standouts of training camp, appeared to injure his knee in the afternoon practice Wednesday and was taken from the field in a cart. Batch was not hit when he was injured. He was cutting on the artificial turf field when he went down late in practice and was in pain.
The Steelers did not release the nature or extent of his injury, but a team source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Batch "probably" has a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Batch wrote on his personal blog Wednesday that he had sustained a torn ACL.
In a news conference earlier in the day, Tomlin said six players would not play against the Redskins in Landover, Md., including two starters -- offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee), on the physically-unable-to-perform list; and cornerback Bryant McFadden (groin). Also, No. 3 receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) will not play
Also ruled out are rookie cornerback Cortez Allen (hamstring), tight end Eugene Bright (PUP list) and linebacker Mario Harvey (groin).
Tomlin said the starters will go for 10 plays or less and that the 15 veteran free agents who have been practicing for less than a week all could play.
Tomlin said he has not yet determined the quarterback rotation, but Ben Roethlisberger will start and is expected to be replaced after the first series by Byron Leftwich. It has not been determined if Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch will replace Leftwich, although both likely will play against the Redskins.
In a rare move, Tomlin will send the team through a practice in pads this morning -- something he rarely does the day before a preseason game -- before the team leaves for the game against the Redskins.
Usually, Tomlin will hold just a light walk-through practice the day before a game. Part of the reason for the heavy practice is because he wants to get his veterans some extra works in pads because they won't play much in Washington.
"We're not going to play that much [against the Redskins], so practice won't affect us in the game as much as the young guys," said inside linebacker and defensive captain James Farrior. "Those are the guys who will need their legs."
Because of all the injuries at the position, the Steelers picked up a "veteran" wide receiver when they signed Kenny Moore and waived injured rookie receiver Adam Mimms. Moore, a fifth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2008, also has been with the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.
Wide receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Limas Sweed (shoulder) did not practice Thursday, and Sanders is out until at least next week.
One of the standouts in training camp has been rookie outside linebacker Chris Carter, the team's fifth-round draft choice from Fresno State. A converted defensive end, he has impressed his teammates and coaches with his quickness off the right edge.
"He's pretty quick for a little guy," Farrior said of Carter, who is listed at 6 feet 1, 248 pounds. "He's got cat-like quickness."
"The kid is relentless," said linebackers coach Keith Butler.
A media newcomer to the Steelers beat asked Tomlin if he might start Antonio Brown over Hines Ward.
"In August football, certainly," Tomlin answered.
Former Cincinnati tight end Reggie Kelly, at training camp Tuesday, was offered the veteran minimum to sign and compete for the No. 2 spot, but he declined. ... Offensive left tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle), outside linebacker James Harrison and offensive guard Ramon Foster (concussion) returned to practice.