Jerricho's injury walls come tumblin' down
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It was a quick and successful start for Jerricho Cotchery after he signed with the Steelers two weeks into training camp.
After averaging 51 catches and 645 yards in seven seasons with the New York Jets, his debut with the Steelers in the second preseason game was equally productive.
Cotchery had two catches for 49 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, including a 20-yard touchdown from Byron Leftwich. His arrival looked to be the finishing touch to a receiving corps that includes Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.
"When I first walked into the locker room in the preseason game and to see my name on a black-and-gold jersey, it was a sight," Cotchery said.
- Game: Steelers (1-1) vs. Colts (0-2), 8:30 p.m.
- Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
- TV: WPXI
"I was excited to be out there."
But nobody has seen Cotchery since, at least, not on a football field. He injured his right hamstring in that game, did not play in the final two preseason games and aggravated the injury the week leading up to the opener in Baltimore.
Cotchery, though, might finally resurface Sunday night in Lucas Oil Stadium when the Steelers (1-1) play the Indianapolis Colts (0-2). He has practiced all week and could dress as the fifth receiver against the Colts.
"To have that setback and having to wait this long to get back on the field have been frustrating," Cotchery said. "But the guys and coaching staff have been very supportive through this time."
Cotchery, 29, was signed to give the Steelers a tough, experienced receiver in the slot, a player who could catch the ball in what offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calls "the grimy areas of the field."
But, even if he does dress against the Colts, Cotchery likely will be used only in five-wide receiver sets. The Steelers want to make sure their young playmakers, Sanders and Brown, are on the field in the three- and four-receiver formations.
No matter. Cotchery will be glad just to be back in uniform.
"I got a lot of work in and I didn't have any setbacks," Cotchery said. "I woke up this morning and feel good right now. Coach [Mike Tomlin] is going to listen to me to see how my body is responding, and they're going to watch me work and they're going to go from there."
Cotchery said he felt his hamstring tightening against the Eagles and came out of the game. As a precaution, the Steelers held him out of practice at training camp and did not let him play in the final two preseason games, hoping to have him ready against the Ravens.
But, that week, Cotchery tested his hamstring and ended up aggravating the injury, setting him back again. He missed the first two games against the Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.
"We were being very cautious at that time, that's the frustrating part about it," Cotchery said. "It started feeling pretty good, and I went out and practiced and did it again. I wanted to be out there for that first game and I ended up missing two games because I re-did it.
"Right now, I'm feeling better than I felt at that time. Right now, I'm trying to build off this and move in the right direction to put this behind us."
The Colts have what Mike Tomlin called a "unique" way of aligning their wide receivers -- always lining Reggie Wayne on their left side and Pierre Garcon on the right.
They did the same thing when Marvin Harrison played, too, always lining him on the right.
But, actually, it's not that unique.
Arians, who was the quarterback coach in Indianapolis from 1998-2000, said the Colts do that because their former offensive coordinator, Tom Moore, always preferred his receivers to line up on the same side -- even when he was with the Steelers.
Arians said Lynn Swann always lined on the right side and John Stallworth to the left when Moore was in charge of the Steelers offense from 1977-89.
"He always thought if Marvin Harrison was going to run 100 routes, it's easier for him to run 100 routes from the right side rather than 50 from the right and 50 from the left," Arians said.
• Defensive end Brett Keisel (knee sprain) did not practiced all week and will not play against the Colts. He already has been ruled out.
• Cornerback Bryant McFadden (hamstring), who did not play against Seattle, has practiced with the second team, and will not start. He will be replaced by William Gay at left cornerback. McFadden isn't listed on the team's official status report.
First Published September 24, 2011 12:00 am