Starks expected to start Sunday for Steelers

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Veteran offensive lineman Max Starks, who has three practices under his belt after being signed off the street Tuesday, expects to be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Starks, who missed the second half of last season with a neck injury, would replace Jonathan Scott at left tackle.

Starks, who last suited up Nov. 8 against Cincinnati, said he took the majority of repetitions in practice this week. Scott missed last week's game against Houston with an ankle injury, but participated in practices this week.

"I think it's been a good week," Starks said following Friday's practice. "I think I will have a shot of running with the [starters]. A game versus a practice is a little bit different, a little more energy. We'll monitor it as the game goes on, monitor snaps. We may do some things to make sure I'm fully acclimated, so I'm not getting thrown completely into the fire."

The Steelers offensive line has struggled to open running lanes for running back Rashard Mendenhall and protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the first four games. Starks, the Steelers' third-round draft choice in 2004, feels confident he can help the depleted line.

"My energy has felt consistent," he said. "My soreness factor has gone up. That was to be expected, two back-to-back padded practices after 11 months off. I responded better than I thought I would. My body feels sore, but nothing I'm not used to."

Ray Fittipaldo: or 412-263-1230.


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