Steelers Notebook: Davis, Baker out; Sweed due to play

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At least one starter won't return to play for the Steelers in Cincinnati Sunday.

Fullback Carey Davis has an ankle sprain that will keep him out for the second game in a row. His ankle was injured Sept. 29 against Baltimore.

That means that tight end Sean McHugh again will fill the position.

Also out is wide receiver Dallas Baker, which means that rookie Limas Sweed could get on the field for the first time this season. Sweed, the team's second-round pick, dressed for the game in Jacksonville but did not play.

"He's doing well," coach Mike Tomlin said of Sweed. "He'll get an opportunity this week to be the No. 4 receiver. He just needs to have consistency in route running, catching the football and assignments. It's just that simple.

"He has improved and, really, he's been on the brink of deserving an opportunity. But the other guys playing in front of him have done a nice job. With this injury to Dallas Baker, it's a window of opportunity for him, one that he needs to take advantage of."

Tomlin expects defensive end Brett Keisel and halfback Willie Parker to return from injuries to play against the Bengals, but was not ready to say that about nose tackle Casey Hampton, who missed the past two games with a groin injury.

"We'll see how he goes this week. He ran yesterday and looked pretty good. He'll probably run again tomorrow. We'll target Thursday as a practice day and see where he is."

Tomlin listed special teams player Keyaron Fox (hamstring) as out for the game.

Left tackle Marvel Smith, who did not practice Monday, has back spasms, and Tomlin wants to see how he does in practice today. He said Max Starks would start if Smith cannot go.

"We feel like we're a better team from the injury standpoint," Tomlin said.

Berger might kick off

Punter Mitch Berger might kick off in Cincinnati, as he did at the end of the game in Jacksonville, but Tomlin believes the calf injury that struck Jeff Reed against the Jaguars will be healed sufficiently for him to attempt field goals and extra points Sunday.

"Really, Jeff's recovery as the week goes on will determine our direction in regards to that. Jeff's a veteran player. That's something that could be decided as late as Sunday."

Tomlin said they have no plans to look at other kickers this week in case Reed cannot play.

"I don't even want to consider those things. I just looked at Jeff and crossed my fingers and told him to get well."

Big Ben much better

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who practiced Monday, may be in his best shape since his right shoulder was injured in the opener on a sack by Houston's Mario Williams.

"Ben is playing winning football for us," Tomlin said. "He hasn't missed any game action, so I haven't thought that much about it."

The name game

Colorful Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson said early this season he changed his name to Ocho Cinco, although the name on his jersey still reads Johnson.

What will the Steelers call him?

"Whatever No. 85 chooses to be recognized as," Tomlin said. "If he wants to be known as Ocho Cinco, that's what we'll call him.

"We respect that guy. He's a talented guy. He needs no endorsements from me. His resume is his resume. The bottom line is that when he steps onto the field to play ball, he's somebody to be reckoned with."


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