Pittsburgh Steelers: Ross Ventrone

PITTSBURGH -- Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon has been officially ruled out for the Pittsburgh Steelers' game against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

McClendon
McClendon
McLendon did not practice all week after aggravating a shoulder injury that caused the fourth-year veteran to miss two games this season.

Rookie Daniel McCullers is expected to make his first career start in place of McLendon, and it will be something off a homecoming for the 6-foot-7, 352-pounder McCullers.

He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee before the Steelers took McCullers with the second of two sixth-round draft picks in May.

It will be interesting to see how many snaps McCullers plays against the 2-7 Titans.

Defensive end Cam Thomas will probably also play nose tackle at Tennessee. The Steelers could also use their nickel package in which the nose tackle comes off the field more.

In addition to McLendon, safety Shamarko Thomas will miss a third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.

The Steelers are expected to get safety Ross Ventrone back after he missed the 20-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Ventrone, who had filled in for Thomas on special teams, practiced all week.

He is listed as probable on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week, as is cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb). Allen was limited in drills on Friday, but practiced fully on Saturday.

The Steelers will be without strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) against the Titans.

All were ruled out earlier this week.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon did not practice again on Friday, and he is not expected to play Monday night against the Tennessee Titans.

 Defensive line coach John Mitchell told Steelers Nation Radio on Thursday that rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers will make his first career start on Monday night.

McCullers has played in three games this season, and the 6-7, 352-pounder has been credited with one tackle.

“He’s learning the techniques necessary to play in the National Football League,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “He was the biggest guy in the draft so size has never been a problem for him. He’s got a lot of strength, and I think he’s got a good future. He’s a good, hard-working young man. We’re pleased to have him.”

Cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb) and safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis on Friday. Safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day after missing the Steelers’ 20-13 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor have already been declared out for the game at Tennessee.

The Titans may be without one of their top receivers when they host the Steelers.

Tight end Delanie Walker, who was knocked out of the Titans’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday with a concussion, did not practice on Friday.

Walker leads Tennessee with 512 receiving yards and is second on the team with 38 catches.

Steelers lose Josh Mauro to Cardinals

November, 14, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers lost another player on Friday when the Arizona Cardinals signed rookie defensive end Josh Mauro to their 53-man roster.

Mauro made a strong bid for the Steelers’ 53-man roster during training camp and the preseason, but the undrafted free agent from Stanford was the odd man out when Pittsburgh re-signed veteran defensive end Brett Keisel in late August.

Mauro had been on the Steelers’ practice squad since early September before the Cardinals signed him.

The Steelers re-signed rookie defensive end Ethan Hemer to take Mauro’s spot on the 10-man practice squad.

This season, the Steelers lost fifth-round draft pick Wesley Johnson after they waived the versatile offensive lineman to make room on the 53-man roster for Ross Ventrone.

The Steelers made the roster move because they were thin at safety, and they lost Johnson when the New York Jets signed the rookie to their 53-man roster.
PITTSBURGH -- Daniel McCullers, the mammoth defensive tackle whom the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted as a project in May, will make his first NFL start Monday night against the Tennessee Titans.

Veteran defensive line coach John Mitchell told Steelers Nation Radio on Thursday that McCullers will play in place of nose tackle Steve McLendon, who will apparently be held out of the Titans' game because of a bad shoulder.

"He's excited about," Mitchell said. "We're excited about it."

Steelers' fans are probably most excited about it.

They have been enamored with McCullers, who is enormous at 6-foot-7 and 352 pounds but also has surprisingly nimble feet.

McCullers played 10 snaps in the Steelers' 20-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday compared to 36 for McLendon, who will miss his third game this season because of a shoulder injury.

McCullers, the second of two sixth-round picks that the Steelers made in May, has played in three games this season and has been credited with one tackle.

McLendon was the only Steelers player who did not practice on Thursday because of an injury who has not already been ruled out for Monday. Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) was limited in drills while safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) was a full participant in practice.

Thomas has missed the last two games and Vetrone did not play against the Jets.

The Steelers are hopeful that one or both of the reserve safeties and special-teams contributors will be able to play against the Titans.

Safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) were ruled out of the Titans game earlier this week by coach Mike Tomlin.
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without perennial Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier for at least another week.

 Coach Mike Tomlin has already ruled out both players as well as veteran cornerback Ike Taylor for the Steelers’ Monday night game at Tennessee.

Polamalu (knee) and Shazier (ankle) did not play in the Steelers’ 20-13 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday. Taylor has been out since breaking his forearm on Sept. 21 in Carolina though he has been practicing on a limited basis.

Shazier, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick last May, has already missed five games this season. The Ohio State product missed four games after spraining his knee in the Steelers’ 37-19 win at Carolina.

Sean Spence and Vince Williams split duties at weakside inside linebacker against the Jets with Spence playing in the Steelers’ base defense and Williams playing in the nickel package.

The Steelers may be without another defensive starter when they visit the 2-7 Titans.

Nose tackle Steve McLendon re-aggravated the shoulder injury that cost him two games earlier this season, and he is questionable to play against the Titans, Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

Rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers spelled McLendon last Sunday, playing 10 snaps against the Jets compared to 36 for McLendon.

Tomlin is hopeful that Shamarko Thomas or Ross Ventrone -- or both -- is able to play against the Jets.

Both safeties are nursing hamstring injuries, and Thomas has missed the past two games. Ventrone did not play against the Jets.

“Obviously, we could use one or both of those guys at the safety position and both are known special-team commodities,” Tomlin said.
PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Dangerfield had been playing in the obscure FXFL before the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him to their practice squad this week.

Now it looks like the former Brooklyn Bolts safety will play in his first NFL game.

Polamalu
The Steelers are down to three safeties on their 53-man roster after they ruled out Ross Ventrone (hamstring) from playing Sunday against the New York Jets.

Troy Polamalu (knee) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have also been ruled out of the 1 p.m. ET game at MetLife Stadium.

The lack of bodies behind starting free safety Mike Mitchell and strong safety Will Allen, who will fill in for Polamalu, makes it likely that the Steelers sign Dangerfield from the practice squad to provide depth and also play special teams.

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was limited in practice because of a hamstring injury, though he is listed as probable for Sunday along with starting outside linebacker Jason Worilds (abdomen).

Worilds has practiced the past two days after sitting out drills on Wednesday.

Five Steelers have been ruled out because of injuries with linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) joining Polamalu, Thomas and Ventrone on the list.

My guess is the Steelers waive Ventrone with the intention of bringing him back and sign Dangerfield from the practice squad.

That would leave guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones as the Steelers’ healthy scratches, and either nose tackle Daniel McCullers or wide receiver Justin Brown.

I think Brown would get the nod over McCullers as far as getting a helmet on Sunday, because he can fill in on special teams if needed.

Jason Worilds practices for Steelers

November, 6, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds practiced Thursday after missing drills the previous day because of an abdominal injury.

The Steelers also had a positive development at safety as Ross Ventrone practiced on a limited basis, leaving open the possibility that he could play Sunday against the New York Jets despite a hamstring injury.

Ventrone did not play in the Steelers' 43-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday night and his return would help at a position where the team is thin because of injuries.

Safeties Troy Polamalu (knee) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have already been ruled out for Sunday. Linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) also won't play against the Jets and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) is expected to miss his seventh consecutive game, though the 12th-year veteran continues to practice on a limited basis.

In other Steelers news, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been voted FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week.

Roethlisberger won the honor for the second consecutive week after throwing for 340 yards and six touchdowns against the Ravens.

Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his last two games, setting an NFL record.

The 11th-year veteran has also won the last two AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards.
PITTSBURGH -- Outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who was not mentioned when Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin provided an injury update Tuesday at his weekly news conference, did not practice on Wednesday because of an abdominal injury.

Worilds
Safeties Troy Polamalu (knee), Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) and Ross Ventrone (hamstring) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) also missed practice because of injuries while cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) was limited in drills.

Defensive end Brett Keisel, tight end Heath Miller, safety Mike Mitchell and center Maurkice Pouncey were given veteran's days off.

Polamalu, Shazier and Thomas have already been ruled out of the Steelers' 1 p.m. ET game Sunday at the New York Jets.

Will Allen will start in place of Polamalu at MetLife Stadium and Sean Spence is expected to start in place of Shazier at weakside inside linebacker.

Four Jets players did not practice on Wednesday, including defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The two were out because of an illness along with starting right tackle Breno Giacomini.

Jets cornerback Darrin Walls did not practice because of a calf injury while wide receiver Percy Harvin was limited in drills because of a heel injury.
PITTSBURGH -- After throwing for an NFL-record 12 touchdown passes in the Pittsburgh Steelers last two games Ben Roethlisberger has accomplished another first.

Roethlisberger
The veteran has won the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award for the second consecutive week, the first time Roethlisberger has accomplished that feat.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 862 yards and 12 touchdowns passes in the past two games. The 11th-year veteran is second in the NFL with 2,720 passing yards and third in passer rating (110.6).

Just don't ask Mike Tomlin if Roethlisberger has elevated himself to NFL MVP candidate with his recent play.

"I am just concerned about us," the Steelers coach said. "I am not concerned about the Joneses. I don't know how well enough other people are playing to even make that assessment. I know he is significant component obviously for us."

More team news

The Steelers signed safety Jordan Dangerfield to the practice squad on Wednesday and released defensive end Ethan Hemer to make room for Dangerfield on the 10-man unit.

Dangerfield was with the Steelers during training camp and he flashed early at St. Vincent College before getting released on Aug. 26.

Dangerfield had been playing FXFL before re-joining the Steelers.

The Steelers are so thin at safety that the 5-11, 200-pounder could be signed to the 53-man roster at the end of the week.

The Steelers only have three healthy safeties on their roster as Troy Polamalu (knee) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have already been declared out for Pittsburgh's 1 p.m. ET game Sunday at the New York Jets.

Ross Ventrone, who didn't play in the Steelers' 43-23 win against the Baltimore Ravens because of a hamstring injury, is questionable for the Jets game.

If Ventrone is unable to play Sunday the Steelers will need Dangerfield to provide depth at safety and play on special teams.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will be close to full strength Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens for an 8:30 p.m. ET game.

 Nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (concussion) are expected to return to action on Sunday. Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) is also expected to play after missing the past three games.

Gilbert, who didn’t play in the Steelers’ 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and McLendon, who has missed the past two games, practiced all week and as listed as probable for Sunday on the team’s final injury report of the week.

Starting free safety Mike Mitchell was also a full participant in the Steelers’ final practice of the week, and he is listed as probable for the Ravens game. Mitchell had been limited in practice on Thursday because of a groin injury.

The only Steelers players who have been ruled out for Sunday are safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm).

Taylor practiced all week on a limited basis as he works his way back from a broken forearm.

With Taylor and Ventrone out, here are my projected healthy scratches for Sunday: nose tackle Daniel McCullers, wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb, guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones.

 
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert and nose tackle Steve McLendon remain on track to play Sunday night against the visiting Baltimore Ravens.

Each practiced again on Thursday as Gilbert makes his way from a concussion that kept him out of the Steelers’ 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts and McLendon returns from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the last two games.

Safety Shamarko Thomas also practiced fully for the second consecutive day, and he is expected to play Sunday after missing the last three games because of a hamstring injury. Safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not practice and he won’t play against the Ravens.

Starting free safety Mike Mitchell (groin) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) were limited in drills. Strong safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Brett Keisel were each given practice off for the second consecutive day.

In a note not related to injuries, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been voted the FedEx Air Player of the Week after throwing for 522 yards and six touchdowns last Sunday against the Colts.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon and right tackle Marcus Gilbert were full participants in practice Wednesday, putting each on track to play Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.

McLendon has missed the last two games because of a shoulder injury. Gilbert did not play in the Steelers' 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday because of a concussion.

Strong safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) also practiced fully, and the second-year man is expected to return against the Ravens after missing the last three games.

Tight end Matt Spaeth (hamstring) and safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) were the only Steelers players who did not practice because of injuries.

Ventrone, who has flashed on special teams while playing in place of Thomas, is not expected to play against the Ravens.

Cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) practiced on a limited basis and safeties Troy Polamalu and Mike Mitchell and defensive end Brett Keisel were given veteran's days off.

A handful of Ravens players did not practice Wednesday, including defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shin) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck).

Also sitting out practice because of injuries were running back Justin Forsett (ankle) -- whose 571 rushing yards are fourth-most in the NFL -- guard Marshal Yanda (knee) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was given a veteran's day off and tight end Owen Daniels (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

Marcus Gilbert set to return, start

October, 28, 2014
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PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert is scheduled to practice on Wednesday after passing a series of concussion tests.

Barring a setback Gilbert will start Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, coach Mike Tomlin said.

Gilbert
Gilbert did not play in the Steelers’ 51-34 win against the Indianapolis Colts. Mike Adams started at right tackle in his absence. The offensive line did not allow a sack against the Colts, and Tomlin singled out the play of Adams at the beginning of his weekly news conference.

But Tomlin did not waver later in saying Gilbert will start against the Ravens if he is healthy.

Tomlin said starting nose tackle Steve McLendon has a good chance of playing Sunday night after missing the last two games because of a shoulder injury. Safety Shamarko Thomas is expected to return after missing the last three games because of a hamstring injury.

Ross Ventrone, who replaced Thomas on special teams, is the only Steelers player who has been ruled out for the 8:30 p.m. ET game against the Ravens on Sunday.

Ventrone went down in the Colts game with a hamstring injury, and Tomlin said Thomas will take his place on special teams.

As far as the bruised psyche of cornerback Cortez Allen, Tomlin said he still has confidence in the fourth-year veteran.

Allen lost his starting job last week and against the Colts he was replaced at nickel back by Antwon Blake after giving up a pair of touchdown receptions.

Tomlin said Allen will compete with Blake for the nickel back spot this week in practice.

“He’s got to lick his wounds and roll his sleeves up and come back to work this week,” Tomlin said of Allen. “We’ll watch him closely and expect him to do it and answer the bell that comes with putting bad stuff on tape. I would imagine that Baltimore’s going to work to attack him and he better work to defend himself.”
Here is the first of two Pittsburgh Steelers mailbags. The second one will run Sunday morning. If you have a question please send to @ScottBrown_ESPN with the hashtag #steelersmail.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I don't know if I would characterize this upcoming stretch as brutal, especially with all three games at home. I do think the Steelers need to win at least two out of three if they want to put themselves into playoff contention. Even if they lose all three I would be shocked if there is a change made in regard to Todd Haley unless the wheels completely fall off the offense. There is nothing in the way that the Steelers operate that suggests they will make a significant coaching change during the season. Fans who are so disenchanted with Haley should also consider that the execution by the players hasn't been close to where it needs to be for this offense to start scoring more points. The Steelers players would be the first to say that.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think both return even if the Steelers miss the playoffs unless something drastic happens like they lose the rest of their games. Mike Tomlin will probably have to shake up his staff if the Steelers miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season and I think he officially lands on the proverbial hot seat if that happens. The Steelers would also have to take a hard look at their drafting process. Whatever the setup is in regard to Kevin Colbert and Tomlin doesn't appear to be working. The Steelers have made too many questionable draft picks since the two have been together. I think the Steelers would be wise to give Colbert the final say -- there appears to be 50/50 split between him and Tomlin -- and give him ownership the draft. Colbert's body of work going back to 2000 has earned him the right to get the Steelers' drafting back on track.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: I don't know if I'd say genius. Right now it looks like the Steelers simply made the better of two bad choices. LaMarr Woodley may be non-factor in Oakland but it's not like Jason Worilds has been tormenting opposing quarterbacks. He has just two sacks and seven quarterback hurries in six games. Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that the Steelers need Worilds to make impact plays on a consistent basis. The best thing that the Steelers can say about Worilds right now is they are not bound to him as far as a contract after 2014. It would be nice if they got more from the $9.754 million they are paying him this season.

@ScottBrown_ESPN: The Steelers wanted another special teams player against the Cleveland Browns with Shamrko Thomas out because of a hamstring injury. I wondered too about the decision to expose Wesley Johnson to waivers when the Steelers presumably could have found someone on else on their 53-man roster to take Thomas' spot on special teams. Ventrone did play well in Thomas' absence, and what does it say about Johnson that the Steelers were willing to risk losing him, as they did to the New York Jets? The bigger question may be why they used the second of two fifth-round picks on Johnson in the first place. That round continues to be a black hole for the Steelers. Their fifth-round picks dating to 2011 are Johnson, cornerback Shaquille Richardson, cornerback Terry Hawthorne, running back Chris Rainey and outside linebacker Chris Carter. Ouch. 

Steelers sign three to practice squad

October, 15, 2014
10/15/14
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers shook up their roster a bit -- just not in the way frustrated fans had probably hoped.

The Steelers added three players to their practice squad and released wide receiver Derek Moye from the practice squad while placing rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson on practice squad/injured reserve.

Moye spent all of last season with the Steelers and caught two passes for 20 yards and a touchdown in seven games. Richardson, a fifth-round draft pick, has been hampered by a knee injury since training camp.

The Steelers signed defensive end Ethan Hemer, cornerback Jordan Sullen and offensive lineman Adam Gettis to their practice squad.

The Steelers had a spot to fill on the practice squad after promoting safety Ross Ventrone to the 53-man roster last Saturday.

The Steelers waived rookie offensive lineman Wesley Johnson to make room on the roster for Ventrone. They lost Johnson, the second of their two fifth-round picks in May, when the New York Jets claimed him off waivers.

Gettis played 12 games for the Washington Redskins in 2012-13 while Hemer signed with the Steelers last May as an undrafted free agent.

The Wisconsin product made it to the final cuts at the end of August.

Sullen, an undrafted free agent, has been with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos.

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