Steelers Notebook: WR Sweed is released
Ike Taylor is one of four injured cornerbacks who will not play tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles.
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It took a while for the Steelers to pull the trigger, and understandably so.
Teams are reluctant to part with wide receivers who are 6 feet 4, 220 pounds and had a productive college career. Even if they do drop easy passes.
But, after four seasons of waiting and mostly hoping for Limas Sweed to develop, the Steelers finally cut ties with their former No. 2 draft choice when they waived him injured Wednesday.
Sweed caught seven passes for 69 yards in two seasons, and his career will be remembered for easy drops against the San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and especially the Baltimore Ravens.
"I am that guy," Sweed said on the first day of training camp when asked if he could turn into the tall, productive receiver the Steelers envisioned four years ago.
"That's how I like to look at it. It's just a matter of me showing my teammates and my coaches that I am that guy. That's the attitude I have, and that's the attitude I'm going to have throughout camp."
The 53rd overall choice in the 2008 NFL draft, Sweed was waived to make room on the roster for two experienced defensive backs who were signed to add depth -- cornerback Kevin Dockery, a six-year veteran who played last season for the St. Louis Rams; and safety Macho Harris, a third-year player who was with the Washington Redskins in 2010.
The Steelers also waived tight end Eugene Bright from their physically-unable-to-perform list to help make room for Dockery and Harris.
Sweed had been bothered by a sprained shoulder and did not play in the preseason opener Friday night against the Redskins. With his size and speed, he had the physical potential to be an impact player, but his career was marked by dropped passes and off-the-field personal issues.
"I just come in like I'm a rookie," Sweed said last month when he reported to Saint Vincent College. "I'm coming off an injury. I battled some off-the-field issues the past couple of years, which held me back. I'm grateful the Steelers were there to work with me and get me through that. I'm back in my right mind, mentally and physically. Now, it's time to just go play, let the chips fall where they may."
Indeed, the Steelers tried to help Sweed by bringing him back to camp, hoping he would get back on his feet after his second season was cut short by personal issues and his third by an Achilles injury. But he had no chance of making the roster, and releasing him now gives him a chance to sign with another team -- which, based on his physical skills, he most assuredly will.
Sweed had a chance to be another Plaxico Burress. Instead, he was just another failed No. 2 draft choice, joining the likes of Alonzo Jackson, Ricardo Colclough and Scott Shields.
"Going through some of the things I went through, being distracted, it caused me to lose confidence," Sweed said. "I guess that's all part of something you go through when you come into the league. But going through those things and having the Steelers there and my teammates there to help me get through them, it definitely made me a stronger person."
The Steelers have had a host of injuries at cornerback, and four of those injured players will not play against the Eagles -- Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Crezdon Butler and rookie Cortez Allen. That's why they needed some immediate depth in the secondary and signed Dockery and Harris.
Dockery played five seasons with the New York Giants before joining the Rams and has started 11 of the 61 games in which he appeared. He has four career interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
Harris played 15 games with the Eagles in 2009 and three with the Redskins last season. He has 44 career tackles with no interceptions.
McFadden did not play in the preseason opener, either, because of a hamstring/quad injury, and coach Mike Tomlin said he will not rush him back until McFadden is completely healthy.
"We want to get him right," Tomlin said.
First Published August 18, 2011 12:00 am