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Matt Spaeth injury: Steelers tight end begins practice, has three weeks to be activated

Spaeth's return might not be seen until Week 13 against Baltimore, but with two consecutive quality pass rushing teams, the Steelers can use all the help they can get in pass protection and the running game.

Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sport

The Steelers had a familiar face on the practice field Thursday.

Tight end Matt Spaeth made his return back to the field for the first time since suffering a foot injury in mid-August. He was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return, becoming the second Steelers player to get that distinction since it was created before the 2012 season.

David DeCastro, last year's IR-Recall lister, made it back to play in Weeks 15-17 after suffering a knee injury in training camp. Spaeth's timeline isn't much shorter than that, even if it doesn't appear he'll play this weekend at Cleveland.

It couldn't come at a better time, either. With the pass-heavy Ravens coming on a short week after the Steelers play at Cleveland, they will need the help, particularly in the running game. The Steelers ran well on Baltimore in their first meeting - a 19-16 Steelers win in Week 7 - but they've been largely unsuccessful on the ground all season.

Week 13 at Baltimore may even be too early. Considering the short turnaround after Cleveland, the plan may be to have Spaeth play in Pittsburgh's Week 14 game against Miami.

The Steelers have three weeks from Spaeth's first practice to either place him on the active roster, or put him on IR for the remainder of the season.

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