AFC North: Damon Cromartie-Smith

PITTSBURGH -- Wednesday will be a telling day as far as whether or not the Steelers have to do more shuffling along the left side of their offensive line.

Foster
Left guard Ramon Foster is slated to practice at least on a limited basis when the Steelers don the pads in preparation for Sunday when they visit the New York Jets.

Foster is nursing a minor pectoral strain, and he said that pain tolerance will be the determining factor on whether he can play against the Jets.

The fifth-year veteran was limited in practuce on Monday. The players are off on Tuesday.

“What he’s capable of doing in pads is going to be critical,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at his weekly news conference.

If Foster is unable to play against the Jets, Kelvin Beachum or Guy Whimper will start at left guard. Beachum is also a leading candidate to start at left tackle following the demotion of Mike Adams.

Beachum would be available to start at left guard if the Steelers go with recently acquired Levi Brown at left tackle.

Wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) is the only Steelers player who has been ruled out for Sunday.

In addition to Foster, inside linebacker Kion Wilson (hamstring) and safety DaMon Cromartie-Smith (hip) will be limited this week by injuries.

Tomlin made no mention of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller or running back Le’Veon Bell when he provided an injury update.

Roethlisberger slightly dislocated the index finger on his throwing hand in the Steelers’ 34-27 loss to the Vikings on Sept. 29. The Steelers held him out of practice last week along with Miller (knee) and Bell (foot) as a precaution.

None of the three is expected to be limited in practice this week as the Steelers prepare for their 1 p.m. game against the Jets.
PITTSBURGH – Picking 48 out of 53 is excellent by almost any measure. Projecting 53-man NFL rosters, which I did with the Steelers on Friday, is not one of them. The reason: So many of the players who make the roster are a given before a team's final cuts. Here are my misses and what I was thinking:
  • Jonathan Dwyer, RB: I didn't see this one coming even though Felix Jones' play generated speculation that Dwyer could be in trouble. I thought the final spot at running back would come down to Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling, since they are similar-type backs. Obviously the Steelers coaches had had enough of the talented but maddening Dwyer.
  • Alameda Ta'amu, NT: The 2012 fourth-round draft pick was beaten out by Hebron Fangupo. I thought the Steelers would keep Ta'amu because they invested a relatively high draft pick in him. He still has practice-squad eligibility, so don't be surprised if Ta'amu is signed there Sunday.
  • Alan Baxter, OLB: This had to be one of the tougher cuts for coach Mike Tomlin and his staff. Baxter was a force rushing the passer in the preseason, but special-teams considerations are why the Steelers kept Chris Carter over the undrafted rookie. Baxter is sure to end up on the practice squad if another team doesn't sign him.
  • Marshall McFadden, ILB: I had the Steelers keeping three backups at inside linebacker, and McFadden was the odd man out as rookie sixth-round pick Vince Williams and Kion Wilson made the team. McFadden still has practice-squad eligibility, so his time in Pittsburgh might not be done.
  • Terry Hawthorne, CB: I put the rookie fifth-round pick on the 53-man roster based on the investment the Steelers made in him but they went with Isaiah Green as their fifth cornerback. Offseason knee surgery really limited Hawthorne during training camp, and he obviously didn't show the coaches enough. Hawthorne is another candidate for the practice squad.
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon acknowledged he lied when he recently said he hadn't failed a drug test at Utah.

This marked the third failed drug test of his college career. He previously had two at Baylor before getting kicked off the football team.

"Yeah, there was a failed test," Gordon told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "But definitely something I want to get past. Coming out here, I have a new experience, a new foundation to get started and I don't really plan on looking back in the past anymore. I only look toward my future."

Browns coach Pat Shurmur said the team knows about Gordon's past. Gordon passed a drug test before being selected in the second round of the NFL supplemental draft.

"We don’t expect that to happen again and when we go through the process of deciding that we are going to draft this player, we have to come to the conclusion that we feel like this is behind him," Shurmur said.

Hensley's slant: The failed drug tests are definitely a red flag, but many NFL prospects make mistakes in college. The bigger problem is that he lied about it. That's a red flag on his character. But, considering the state of the Browns' wide receiver group, this is a risk Cleveland had to take.

BENGALS: The team announced that it signed defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to an extension. Zimmer was entering the final year of his contract. While the Bengals didn't reveal the terms of the deal, the Cincinnati Enquirer believes it's a three-year deal based on the past two contracts given to Bengals coordinators. That would mean Zimmer and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden are signed through the 2014 season. In other news, the Bengals signed the last draft pick in their 2012 class, third-round defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. Hensley's slant: Even though Zimmer and Gruden are believed to be signed for the next three seasons, either one could leave for a head coaching job. If the Bengals continue their success, Gruden and Zimmer will become hot commodities. Zimmer interviewed for the head coaching jobs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins this offseason.

RAVENS: Baltimore signed two veteran linebackers, Ricky Brown and Darryl Blackstock, according to the team's official website. Brown and Blackstock played for the Raiders last season. Both are expected to provide depth at linebacker and contribute on special teams. The Ravens also added guard Cordard Howard, who spent last season on injured reserve with Buffalo. Hensley's slant: The Ravens could use some experience on special teams after losing two of their top four tacklers on coverage teams (Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura). This is also the same special teams that allowed three touchdowns last season. The team's biggest addition on special teams came in March, when Baltimore signed Corey Graham, a Pro Bowl player last year.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh placed six players on the Physically Unable to Perform list: linebacker James Harrison (knee), offensive tackle Max Starks (knee), running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee), nose tackle Casey Hampton (knee), linebacker Jason Worilds (wrist) and safety Damon Cromartie-Smith (shoulder). Head coach Mike Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Hampton could be taken off the PUP list before the end of training camp. “I’ll let time tell the story,” Tomlin said. “It is going to be at least a week or two, but we will see.” In other news, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the team promoted scout Dan Rooney Jr. to player personnel coordinator (No. 2 behind general manager Kevin Colbert) and expanded the duties for Omar Khan, who is now the director of football and business administration. Hensley's slant: None of the players placed on PUP are a surprise, including Harrison. He missed time in spring workouts with a knee issue. This isn't alarming. The Steelers likely want to bring him along slowly.

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