Just a quick report on the Pittsburgh Steelers first practice of Week 10 in preparation for their Sunday afternoon matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers (6-3) are coming off their first loss since early October, a 23-20 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens that cost Pittsburgh its spot atop the AFC standings.
Out of Sunday's game were James Farrior (calf) and Emmanuel Sanders (knee). Knocked out of the game were Hines Ward (head), Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and Stevenson Sylvester (knee). Of the three, only Ward practiced on Wednesday afternoon. Let's take a look at the complete practice report:
Did Not Participate: WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), WR Jerricho Cotchery (knee), S Troy Polamalu (rib), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee), LB Stevenson Sylvester (knee), LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring)
Full Participation in Practice: LB James Farrior (calf), G Doug Legursky (toe), WR Hines Ward (head)
The injury situation at wide receiver is certainly a concern. With Sanders out at least a few weeks, the Steelers can ill afford to have both Jerrico Cotchery and Arnaz Battle be unavailable this Sunday against Cincinnati's formidable defense. We'll see how serious either of their two injuries are as the week progresses.
The good news, however, is that Hines Ward returned to practice and appears to be just fine after being leveled (illegally) by Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard early on in Sunday's loss to Baltimore. Ward, I'm sure, is looking forward to playing against a Bengals team he has feasted on over the years.
Also encouraging is the recovery of Farrior. I don't think anyone was anything short of pleased with the play of Larry Foote, but I truly believe the Steelers missed Farrior on Sunday for the simple fact that it's he who calls the play out to his teammates and communicates changes pre-snap based on what the offense is showing. Farrior may lack the physical attributes he once had, but I don't think it can be underestimated how important he is as the 'quarterback' of the defense from his inside linebacker position.
The Steelers play the Bengals in Cincinnati at 1 pm est Sunday afternoon. For comprehensive Bengals coverage and discussion, stop on by Cincy Jungle at some point this week.