NFL Nation: Stevenson Sylvester

Bills Camp Report: Day 32

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • Another day, another practice where receiver Sammy Watkins suited up but wasn't a full participant. Watkins was in full pads, taking part in warm-up drills and stretching before watching the rest of the practice from the sideline. Coach Doug Marrone said the Bills' medical staff hasn't made a decision on Watkins' status for Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At this point, it doesn't make sense to play Watkins unless he's completely healthy. The opener in Chicago is most important.
  • Tempers flared for some of the players who did practice. The highlight (lowlight?) of practice was a brawl in the end zone during a goal-line drill. Center Eric Wood, a team captain, and defensive end Bryan Johnson, an undrafted rookie, were at the center of it initially before it spilled off to the side. At one point, tight end Scott Chandler had to be restrained from Johnson. The language used between some of the players wasn't too family-friendly.
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin had just seemed to ramp his participation up to normal levels this week when he left Wednesday's practice with a groin injury. It's unclear if McKelvin will be available for Saturday's game. It has to be frustrating for McKelvin, who has taken several months to recover from offseason hip surgery and also dealt with a hamstring injury early last season. However, the Bills have some depth at cornerback to withstand any long-term blow.
  • It was another sharp day for quarterback EJ Manuel, who has been running against the scout team defense this week in practice. He went 11-for-15 in full-team drills, delivering his passes on-time and accurately on mostly shorter routes.
  • After Jeff Tuel received 26 snaps and Thad Lewis saw nine reps Tuesday, the two backup quarterbacks switched Wednesday. Lewis was the first to replace Manuel and finished practice with 25 snaps (compared to 33 for Manuel). Tuel had nine. Coaches are still giving both players a chance to win the backup job, but Tuel appears to be the front-runner. It wouldn't be surprising if he saw more reps Thursday.
  • Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (torn patella) was placed on injured reserve, and cornerbacks Mario Butler (ankle) and Bobby Felder (groin), as well as safety Jonathan Meeks (neck) were held out of practice. Tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring) continues to be limited; he spent team drills working with trainers on a side field.
  • The Bills will wrap up training camp at St. John Fisher College with a practice Thursday afternoon. They are off Friday before playing the Buccaneers on Saturday.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills placed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester on injured reserve Wednesday, the team announced.

Sylvester
Sylvester has a torn patella tendon in his left knee, per a source. He had been out of practice since Tuesday.

The fifth-year pro, who spent his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. He was among the candidates to replace linebacker Nigel Bradham in the starting lineup for Week 1, when Bradham will sit a one-game suspension.

The Bills may now turn to rookie Preston Brown alongside Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers for that game.

Sylvester's injury also thins out the depth at linebacker, where the Bills have already lost Kiko Alonso (torn ACL) for the season.
The Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester on Wednesday, adding another player to compete at the position following the loss of Kiko Alonso to a season-ending knee injury.

Sylvester
Sylvester, who turns 26 on Friday, was a fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. He played in 50 games in four seasons with the Steelers, making two starts. He should compete with Ty Powell and rookie Randell Johnson for a role on special teams.

To make room for Sylvester on the 90-man roster, the Bills waived tight end Mike Caussin, who missed each of the past two seasons with injuries. Caussin had been with the Bills since 2010.

In a procedural move, the Bills placed Alonso on the active/non-football injury list. Alonso remains on the 90-man roster and can be taken off the list at any time. The Bills may later choose to place Alonso on the reserve/non-football injury list, which would keep him out of at least the first six weeks of the regular season. He isn't expected to play this season.

The Bills also placed Johnson and cornerback Leodis McKelvin on the active/physically unable to perform list. Johnson participated fully in spring practices while McKelvin was recovering from hip surgery. Either player can come off the list at any time.

In addition, the Bills placed offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Alan Branch on the active/non-football illness list. Either player can return at any time during training camp.

Free-agency primer: Steelers

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

 
Key free agents: WR Emmanuel Sanders, DE Ziggy Hood, WR Jerricho Cotchery, DE Al Woods, DE Brett Keisel, S Ryan Clark, RB Jonathan Dwyer, C Fernando Velasco, OT Guy Whimper, C/G Cody Wallace, TE David Johnson, LB Stevenson Sylvester.

Where they stand: General manager Kevin Colbert has said the Steelers may be more active in free agency than in recent years, but don’t expect their philosophy to fundamentally change. The Steelers will focus on their own players and are likely to sit out the first wave of free agency and target midlevel free agents after the marquee names have signed with other teams. Colbert hinted that the Steelers could try to land a potential starter via free agency, and they could use immediate help as well as depth at just about any position on defense. Nothing would help the Steelers more than if they could sign a free agent who will make an impact like Ryan Clark (2006) or James Farrior (2002) did, though they would have to splurge to get a free agent the caliber of Farrior.

What to expect: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the team's top free agent, is going to command more money than the Steelers are willing to pay. He will almost certainly sign elsewhere, though look for veteran Jerricho Cotchery to re-sign with the team after catching 10 touchdown passes last season. Defensive end Ziggy Hood is likely to sign elsewhere, making it imperative that the Steelers bring back Al Woods. They could also re-sign Brett Keisel for one more season if the two sides can find common ground on compensation. The Steelers have a good chance of signing most of their free agents with the exceptions of Sanders and Hood, and that is how they will add depth to their offensive line. Free agents they could target include former Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant, Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai and 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown. The Steelers met with former Lions safety Louis Delmas last month, but his knee issues may be too much of a red flag for them, and they have since re-signed veteran Will Allen.

Countdown to combine: Steelers

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
1:30
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PITTSBURGH -- With the NFL combine starting Wednesday in Indianapolis, we’re taking a look at positions of need and who the Pittsburgh Steelers might be looking at during the combine at those positions.

Position of need: Inside linebacker

The Steelers need depth at the position and possibly a long-term starter. Rookie Vince Williams started 11 games at left inside linebacker following the loss of Larry Foote in the 2013 season opener. Williams, a sixth-round draft pick, made steady improvement, but struggled in coverage. It is too early to tell whether he is a viable NFL starter in the mold of Foote, who stood out against the run, or is better suited as a reserve who is also a core special-teams player. Foote has one year left on his contract, but given his age -- the 12th-year veteran turns 34 in June -- and the fact that he is coming back from a ruptured bicep, there is no guarantee he returns for another season. Stevenson Sylvester will be an unrestricted free agent next month.

Three players the Steelers might be targeting

Chris Borland, Wisconsin: The Steelers, like most teams, should fall in love with his game tape. Borland made tackles all over the field at Wisconsin, racking up 416 stops during a career in which he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors three times. Borland burnished his reputation as a guy who can simply play at the Senior Bowl ,and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks the 5-foot-11, 245-pounder second among inside linebackers. Concerns about his height and short arms, which raise questions about whether he will struggle to shed blocks at the next level, could hurt Borland’s draft stock. Couple that with the belief many teams have that inside linebackers can be found later in the draft, and there is a good chance Borland will still be available when the Steelers pick in the second round.

Christian Kirksey, Iowa: Kirksey played outside linebacker in college, but he would likely move inside if drafted by a team that plays a 3-4 defense like the Steelers. Kirksey had an outstanding senior season -- he recorded 104 tackles despite getting overshadowed by teammates James Morris and Anthony Hitchens -- and he drew good reviews from his week at the Senior Bowl. The 6-2, 234-pounder has good size and athleticism, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has raved about his character. Kirksey could be among the inside linebackers available to the Steelers in the middle rounds if they address other positions earlier in the draft.

C.J. Mosley, Alabama: The consensus All-American and possibly the most ready-made NFL player in the draft might not even get to the Steelers at No. 15 overall. The 6-2, 228-pound Mosley is a three-down linebacker who should make an immediate impact, if not start right away. The hunch here is that Mosely does make it past the first 14 picks with a handful of teams in front of the Steelers desperate for quarterbacks and the de-valuing of inside linebacker in the draft in general. If Mosley, who is expected to test well in all aspects at the combine, is available when the Steelers make their first-round pick, it will be very temping for them to take him and pair him with Lawrence Timmons. That, if Mosley is as good as advertised, would help the Steelers improve a run defense that allowed 125 yards per game in 2013.

Sanders, Worilds out again for Steelers

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
4:28
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PITTSBURGH -- Outside linebacker Jason Worilds and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders have yet to practice this week, making Friday critical for each player regarding his availability for the Pittsburgh Steelers' regular-season finale.

Worilds is trying to come back from an abdomen injury and a stinger, while Sanders will try to play through a sprained knee Sunday when the Steelers host the Browns.

Worilds
Sanders
Sanders said earlier this week that his knee has to get strong enough for him to have confidence cutting on it.

“We’ve still got time and he’s working hard to give himself a chance to come out and play,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “He’s a competitive guy that wants to be part of this and part of having a chance to win Sunday.”

In addition to Worilds and Sanders, right guard David DeCastro (back) and linebacker Terence Garvin (knee) did not practice on Thursday. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (illness), defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) were full participants in practice.

The Steelers appear to be bringing Worilds along slowly after he missed most of the second half of their win at Green Bay last Sunday. His injuries and the absence of Jones – he had been scratched after getting sick the night before the game – led the Steelers to start Chris Carter at outside linebacker and play Stevenson Sylvester extensively at left outside linebacker.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said he hopes Worilds’ playing time on Sunday isn’t limited.

“But Chris will get some snaps and so will Sly,” LeBeau said. “”They’ll all four play.”

Jarvis Jones returns to practice

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
12:48
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PITTSBURGH -- Jarvis Jones is still getting over the virus that sidelined him Sunday in Green Bay but the rookie outside linebacker said he is practicing Tuesday.

Jones looked a little out of it as he talked at his locker before the Steelers’ Christmas Eve practice, and he said the team is treating him for a virus.

Jones went through a normal day last Saturday when he took part in the Steelers’ walkthrough and flew with the team to Green Bay. He said he took a nap at the team hotel and knew there was a problem when he got up to attend team meetings.

“I just woke up in a pool of sweat,” Jones said. “Heat flashes.”

Jones said he has been re-hydrating himself since he has sweated out so much water since last Saturday.

The Steelers scratched Jones for their Sunday game against the Packers, and they played most of the second half with Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester at outside linebacker because of an abdominal injury sustained by Jason Worilds.

Both Jones and Worilds are expected to play Sunday against the visiting Browns. Worilds is among the Steelers not taking part in the first practice of the week.

Woodley, Keisel questionable for Sunday

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
2:25
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers could again be without two defensive starters Sunday when they visit the Browns.

Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) have been officially listed as questionable for the 1 p.m. game.

Keisel
Keisel
Woodley
Woodley
Each was listed as limited participants in the Steelers' final practice of the week. Keisel, who is dealing with plantar fasciitis, said he wanted to test his injured foot after not playing in the Steelers' 37-27 win over the Lions last Sunday.

"I did enough to where I'm engaging with an offensive lineman, putting weight on it, moving laterally, all of the things you need to do on Sunday," Keisel said. "I don't know if [the injury] can get worse or not. It's just one of those things you are going to have to deal with and go out work."

Keisel and Woodley are likely to be game-time decisions.

The Steelers will get one starter back barring a setback as left guard Ramon Foster fully practiced Friday for the second consecutive day. Foster, who did not play last Sunday because of a sprained ankle, is listed as probable for the Browns game along with center Fernando Velasco (knee) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip).

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders also appear to be good to go after getting knocked out of the Lions win with a foot injury. Sanders practiced all week and was a full participant in drills the last two days.

The only Steelers players that have been ruled out for Sunday are safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring).
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley did not practice Thursday, sitting out drills a day after he took part in them on a limited basis.

Woodley
Woodley
The Steelers are hoping both Woodley and defensive end Brett Keisel play in Cleveland, a week after each missed the team’s 37-27 win against the Lions.

Keisel has yet to practice this week, making Friday a critical day for the 12th-year veteran. He and safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) were the only Steelers who didn’t practice on Thursday.

Left guard Ramon Foster (ankle) is on track to play Sunday after practicing fully on Thursday. The same is true of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot), who has practiced both days this week.

Also participating fully in practice on Thursday were tight end Heath Miller, center Fernando Velasco (knee) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip). Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) was limited.

Tight end Matt Spaeth practiced for the first time since suffering a Lisfranc injury in early August. Spaeth has been on the short-term injured reserve list, and the Steelers have three weeks to add the seventh-year veteran to their 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve.

“Didn’t do a lot, but did a little bit of everything,” Spaeth said. “It felt good to be back.”
PITTSBURGH -- Coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic that the Pittsburgh Steelers will get three starters back for their 1 p.m. ET game Sunday at Cleveland.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf), defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and left guard Ramon Foster (ankle) will be limited in practice this week, but Tomlin said he “anticipates” all three returning to action against the Browns.

None of the three played in the Steelers’ 37-27 win against the Lions last Sunday.

Tomlin is also hopeful wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will be able to play Sunday despite a foot injury that knocked the fourth-year veteran out of the Lions game.

Sanders will try to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday.

“He’s feeling much better than he was on Sunday,” Tomlin said.

If Sanders is unable to play, a combination of Jerricho Cotchery, Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye will replace him.

Safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester are doubtful for the Browns game, Tomlin said.

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip) and center Fernando Velasco (knee) are among those who will be limited in practice, but each is expected to play in Cleveland.

Tight end Matt Spaeth is getting his foot evaluated Tuesday, and he could try to practice this week. Spaeth is on the short-term injured reserve list because of a Lisfranc injury.

Upon Further Review: Steelers Week 11

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
10:05
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An examination of four hot issues from the Steelers' 37-27 win over the Lions:

Running on empty: The Steelers won for the first time this season when they weren't able to establish the running game and had to depend on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger slinging passes all over the field. The Steelers ran the ball on just 37.5 percent of their snaps. Le'Veon Bell struggled despite a promising start. The rookie gashed the Lions for 13 yards on the Steelers' first offensive play of the game. He gained only 23 yards on 17 carries the rest of the way, and Jonathan Dwyer hardly played until late in the game. It was puzzling that the player coach Mike Tomlin called a "spark plug" last week didn't get some carries earlier in the game. Dwyer is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this season while Bell is averaging a pedestrian 3.1 yards per tote.

Cotchery
Taylor
Old reliable: Jerricho Cotchery's 20-yard touchdown catch sealed the Steelers' win and also established a new career high for scoring catches in a season (seven) by the 10-year veteran. Roethlisberger often talks about how much he trusts Cotchery, and free safety Ryan Clark added his own unique spin on what makes the player known as "J Co" to his teammates so valuable. "Sometimes they have Ferraris out there and sometimes you've got some Bentleys," Clark said of wide receivers in general. "Jerricho is a conversion van. He's always going to be there. He's going to tote the family well. He's going to be safe. He makes every catch he's supposed to and makes all the plays he should make. He's an awesome player. He's underrated in this league but he's eating people up in the slot."

Bouncing back: Ike Taylor looked completely overmatched in the second quarter when he gave up a pair of touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and dropped an easy interception. The veteran cornerback looked like he needed extra help with Johnson. It turned out he just needed to get to the locker room to regroup along with the rest of the Steelers defense. Both were considerably better in the second half as Johnson did not catch any of the three passes that Matthew Stafford threw to him in the half. "We weren't drawing up anything different," strong safety Troy Polamalu said when asked about the adjustments the defense made at halftime. "We just needed to do our job better. It wasn't just Ike who gave up those plays. There were some broken coverages." Said Taylor: "We stuck with [the game plan]. It's not how you start. It's how you finish."

Injury update: The Steelers came out of the game in pretty good shape on the injury front. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury and didn't return. But Sanders indicated that the injury wasn't serious and said he did not need to get an MRI on his foot. He said the Steelers held him out of the game in part because they didn't want him making the foot worse on the wet field. "I could have went back in," Sanders said. Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester sustained a hamstring injury in the game.
PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 61 receptions, but the fourth-year wide receiver is looking to do even more to help the Steelers bounce back after a disastrous first half of the season.

Wallace
Brown
“Maybe I need to find a way to help us win,” Brown said, “whether that’s taking a punt back, any difference to change the outcome of the game.”

Brown has been close to breaking a punt return for a touchdown, nearly scoring two weeks ago in Oakland and following a 44-yard punt return against the Raiders with a 24-yarder against the Patriots.

Next up for the Steelers is a Bills team that has struggled to cover punts.

Buffalo is 27th in the NFL in opponents’ punt return average (11.6 yards).

“We’ve been so close to popping one of these returns for a touchdown,” said linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, who is on the kickoff and punt return teams. “We’ve got to get A.B. free. We’ve got to get him in the end zone.”

Coach Mike Tomlin would no doubt be in favor of that as the Steelers have struggled to score touchdowns this season despite getting four of them in the 55-31 loss to the Patriots.

The Steelers have also been close to breaking big returns on kickoffs.

Felix Jones has a pair of returns of at least 40 yards, and Emmanuel Sanders came within inches of a 107-yard kickoff return against the Ravens.

Brown is the most obvious candidate to reach the end zone. He is 11th in the NFL in punt return average (10.4 yards) and is dynamic in the open field.

Sylvester said the punt return team has made it a goal to spring Brown for at least one touchdown return in the second half of the season.

“He’s due for a couple,” Sylvester said of Brown. “He’s been so close to breaking them. We’ve got to get him free.”

Baron Batch was bad fit for Steelers

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
4:34
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Le'Veon Bell’s foot injury probably cost third-year running back Baron Batch any chance of making the Steelers. Batch was among the players cut Sunday as the Steelers trimmed their roster to 75 players, and he was simply a luxury the team couldn’t afford with its running game in such flux.

You can win with players like Baron Batch. He is excellent on special teams and is a more than willing and able blocker, especially when it comes to blitzing linebackers. The former seventh-round pick does all of the little things well and has a heart the size of his native Texas.

Batch would be an ideal fourth running back on a team that has a feature back since he could play primarily on special teams and provide injury insurance. But he wasn’t a good fit on a team that will go with a running back by committee -– at least until Bell is healthy and able to fill the role of feature back.

Releasing Batch before the final cut might have come as a surprise to some Steelers fans. But it is probably a measure of how highly the Steelers think of Batch, as a person and a professional. The timing of his release gives Batch a chance to catch on somewhere else and get a couple of days to impress his new team.

The release of Stevenson Sylvester, the other veteran cut on Sunday, leaves the Steelers with very little experience behind Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote at inside linebacker.

It all but assures Marshall McFadden and rookie Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick last April, of making the 53-man roster.

The only draft pick right now that won’t make the 53-man roster is seventh-rounder Nick Williams, who has been shut down by a knee injury. The Steelers liked enough of what they saw from Williams, a defensive end, that they put him on the reserve/injured list instead of the waived/injured list.

Cornerback Terry Hawthorne (fifth round) and wide receiver Justin Brown (sixth round) are battling for roster spots, and I think Hawthorne makes the team, but Brown might have too much to overcome -- namely his former Penn State teammate Derek Moye and the real possibility that the Steelers only keep four wide receivers.

Moye appears to have separated himself among the wide receivers who aren't a lock to make the team. But he could get caught in a numbers cruch if the Steelers have to carry an extra tight end or running back because of injuries.
Click here for the complete list of Pittsburgh Steelers' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Steelers are going with undrafted rookie Drew Butler (son of former NFL kicker Kevin Butler) as their punter. Injuries essentially forced this move. Pittsburgh parted ways with Daniel Sepulveda in the offseason because he couldn't stay healthy and waived Jeremy Kapinos on Friday after a back issue sidelined him this summer. Butler averaged 45.9 yards a punt this preseason and placed six of his 28 punts inside the 20-yard line. The other noteworthy move was keeping Charlie Batch, who was not expected to see his 11th season with Pittsburgh after Byron Leftwich won the backup job. The Steelers decided to keep three quarterbacks and just four wide receivers. Chris Rainey, who has lined up in the slot this preseason, is a hybrid running back-receiver.

Onward and upward: Pittsburgh should have no problem signing David Gilreath to the practice squad. If the Steelers went with a fifth receiver, it would have been Gilreath. He separated himself from an undistinguished group of reserve receivers with four catches for 78 yards in the second preseason game. The other benefit of keeping Gilreath is his ability as a returner. He led Wisconsin in punt and kickoff returns two years ago and could be promoted if Rainey got injured. Receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders can return kicks as well.

What's next: The Steelers may address depth at inside linebacker after placing rookie third-round pick Sean Spence on injured reserve Friday. With Stevenson Sylvester out for a couple of weeks with a torn MCL, Pittsburgh is down to former Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson as the top backup inside. The Steelers could bring back Trai Essex, after cutting the eight-year veteran Friday, when they place first-round pick David DeCastro on injured reserve Tuesday, allowing the team to activate DeCastro after eight weeks under the new IR rule. Pittsburgh is expected to waive rookie tight end David Paulson after Weslye Saunders serves his four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.

Steelers: One big question

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
12:00
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Do the Pittsburgh Steelers still have the best defense in the NFL?

That depends on three factors: the health of nose tackle Casey Hampton, the ability to replace inside linebacker James Farrior, and the emergence of a No. 2 cornerback. The most pressing issue is Hampton, who had ACL surgery in January. It's unknown whether the 35-year-old veteran will be lining up against Denver in the season opener, or starting the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. His absence could force Ziggy Hood to shift from defensive end, or push rookie fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu into the starting lineup.

The Steelers already know they must replace Farrior, who was cut March 2. Some would dismiss this as a challenge, because Farrior was a part-time player last season and contributed a career-low 78 tackles. Still, he was a 10-year starter and the top leader on defense. Many expected the Steelers to draft Dont'a Hightower as his replacement, but they chose guard David DeCastro in the first round instead. Now, Pittsburgh will fill that spot with either Larry Foote, who was previously released so Lawrence Timmons could start, or Stevenson Sylvester, who has 21 career tackles.

The other question is at cornerback, where Pittsburgh must fill William Gay's starting spot. It's up in the air right now, and should come down to a three-player race between Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. Lewis and Allen played on the team's nickel defense last season, but the dark horse to win this battle is Brown, a tenacious defender who led the Steelers in special teams tackles last season. The Steelers' defense ended last season ranked first in fewest yards and points allowed after being criticized early for being too old. So, it's hard to predict much of a falloff as Pittsburgh goes through some transition at a couple of positions.

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