Steelers Notebook: Townsend easing back into action
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Cornerback Deshea Townsend returned to practice yesterday for the first time after missing the past two games, but that doesn't mean he will push Bryant McFadden out of the starting lineup. At least, not for the Monday night game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Coach Mike Tomlin said McFadden, who has interceptions in each of the two games he replaced Townsend (heel contusion), will start against the Ravens.
McFadden "is the starter right now," Tomlin said.
"He's performed at a high level. Deshea's not 100 percent ready to go right now. We're trying to see if Deshea is capable of playing for us at this point. We're not questioning if [McFadden] is going to start for us this weekend."
It is possible the Steelers could start McFadden and use Townsend in a limited role as the nickel back, something they have done in the past when Townsend has come off an injury.
"It's good to get Deshea back out there and watch him run around a little," Tomlin said. "We'll continue to watch his progress."
More on physical status
Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu (quad) did not practice for the second day in a row but is expected to work today and play against the Ravens.
"He needed a couple days to get that quad contusion to settle down a little bit," Tomlin said. "Maybe it's just us exercising a little caution at this point, which is OK by me."
Wide receiver Hines Ward, left offensive tackle Marvel Smith and outside left linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) returned to practice.
Biting his tongue
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has learned his lesson.
When asked yesterday to compare Polamalu to Baltimore's Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, Arians was quick to avoid his comment last year when he said Reed was better than Polamalu.
"They're the same cat: Pro Bowl players," Arians said. "He and Troy are ball hawks. I'm not going to say anymore that Ed is better than Troy because I got a lot of crap last year. Troy is better. Troy is healthy. I'm keeping Troy, but Ed is great."
Last year, when asked to compare the two players, Arians said, "Ed's a great player. I personally think he's the best. I love Troy and I think he's good, but Ed is really good."
Preparing for Ray Lewis
Running back Willie Parker remembers the first time he was tackled by Ray Lewis and got a dose of trash talk from the Ravens' middle linebacker. Parker said he enjoyed it.
"I liked the fact he even knew anything about me and said where I'm from," Parker said. "He was talking noise, don't get me wrong. But I was like smiling."
Parker, a two-time Pro Bowl back, will not play against the Ravens because of a sprained left knee, an injury that is likely to cause him to miss at least two games. He will be replaced by rookie No. 1 Rashard Mendenhall, who was warned by coach Mike Tomlin and running backs coach Kirby Wilson to be ready for Lewis' trash talk.
"It isn't even really him," Parker said of Lewis. "It's Bart Scott and [Terrell] Suggs and all those other boys.
"... One thing I can say about the Baltimore defense: They talk a lot of stuff, but they do back it up. A lot of other defenses talk it, but they can't back it up. This defense can back it up."
First Published September 26, 2008 12:00 am