Taylor breaks finger in opener

Steelers Notebook

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LANDOVER, Md. -- Cornerback Ike Taylor's left thumb was broken on the first defensive series Friday night against the Washington Redskins, and he could be out for several weeks. Coach Mike Tomlin said Taylor might need surgery to repair the thumb, but Taylor did not seem to think it was any big deal.

"I just got nicked on my thumb," said Taylor, the Steelers' best cornerback, who was re-signed in free agency. "I don't remember exactly what happened. It will be all right."

Taylor continued to play after his thumb was injured, but he said he started to feel the pain during a timeout later in the series. That's when he took himself out of the game.

"All of a sudden, we were both in awe, like, when did that happen?" said cornerback William Gay, who started at left cornerback in place of the injured Bryant McFadden.

Taylor was wearing a soft cast after the game and said he does not know if the injury will require surgery. He said he is not going to worry about it "til they give me the say-so. I wasn't even paying attention to it. Then, during the timeout, I felt it."

If Taylor can't play, Gay likely would start at right cornerback if McFadden is healthy. If McFadden remains sidelined, third-year corner Keenan Lewis would likely replace Taylor.

"You just got to go to work, whatever happens," Lewis said. "That's how it goes in pro football. You never know."

More injury news

Two Pro Bowl performers -- safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebacker James Harrison -- were held out of the game for what is believed to be precautionary reasons. In their absence, Ryan Mundy started at safety and Jason Worilds at outside right linebacker.

Polamalu is coming off a season in which he was hampered by a partially torn Achilles tendon, an injury that did not require surgery but took months to heal. Harrison had double back surgery in March and has been given several days off at training camp.

Tomlin said Lewis (left calf), defensive end Sunny Harris (right foot), wide receiver Wes Lyons (concussion) and cornerback Crezdon Butler (quad) were also injured in the game. Safety Ryan Clark also left the field on the first series with a stinger and did not return. Clark is fine.

Grass or artificial turf?

Dan Rooney still believes in playing football on grass, and he hopes the Steelers keep it that way at Heinz Field. The Steelers chairman emeritus believes artificial turf is more dangerous than grass, although he declined to use the torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained by rookie running back Baron Batch as an example.

Batch's season-ending knee injury occurred late in practice Wednesday on the only artificial-turf field they have at Saint Vincent College. That field was used because the other three grass fields were deemed too wet to use by Tomlin because of heavy rains.

Last year, the Steelers re-sodded Heinz Field twice late in the season -- once after the high school football playoff games in November and again after the NHL's Winter Classic Jan. 1.

The Steelers replaced the grass with new sod this past week after weekend shooting scenes at Heinz Field for "The Dark Knight Rises," the new Batman movie, were completed. Rooney said they likely will replace the sod again after the November high school championship games.

About the Batch injury on artificial turf, Rooney said, "That can happen. I don't say that mainly because of that, I just think that artificial turf ... there is maybe more risk."

The Steelers, however, practice on an artificial surface when they use their indoor facility on the South Side. That turf was replaced this year for the first time in 10 years. Rooney said he favors grass because he is "traditional."

Tomlin weighs in on Harrison

Tomlin said Harrison's comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were "inappropriate and unfortunate," and that his players need to learn to conduct themselves in a "professional manner."

Tomlin made the comments when he appeared with former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson on 980 ESPN Radio in Washington. Thompson asked him if Harrison's comments will have any impact on the Steelers this season.

"I don't know if it has any impact on us in terms of our goals and what we need to do this year," Tomlin said. "Obviously the comments were inappropriate and unfortunate. From my perspective more than anything else, it's an opportunity to educate not only him but the many other guys that we have on our team about conducting yourself in a professional manner.

"And if you have an opinion, of course express it in maybe a more appropriate manner. I think those are the lessons learned from this thing. I don't think that unfortunate incident or statement has any bearing on how we do."

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com , and on Twitter @gerrydulac; Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com , and on Twitter @EdBouchette


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