Catching Everything

Tyler Grisham (Getty Images)

LATROBE – Jerricho Cotchery didn't take the field yesterday for the Steelers, but Hines Ward and Tyler Grisham made up the difference.

While the free-agent Cotchery visited and left, Ward passed his physical, came off the PUP list and scored a touchdown on the first pass thrown his way.

It was an in route over the middle in front of William Gay, and Ward dove, bobbled it, and reeled it in to make his presence felt immediately.

"It felt good to be able to come up with that, especially down in the red zone where it's so tight and the [passing] windows are very small," Ward said. "It felt good just to get down, and I had to use my thumb on that. I felt good."

Ward had been on the PUP list because of thumb surgery in June. But he said his thumb felt good, and so did the old legs.

"Not bad for a 35-year-old guy," Ward said. "Dancing With The Stars, I credit that to my offseason. I really worked my butt off this offseason. The lockout really gave me time to work on everything. I'm in shape and I'm ready to gradually get better each day I step on the practice field."

Ward solved one question mark on a receiving corps the Steelers' front office has been trying to bolster ever since the lockout ended. First they brought Plaxico Burress in for a talk, and yesterday it was Cotchery, the former Jet.

Not that the Steelers have any question that Emmanuel Sanders will return. The medical reports on his foot are encouraging and he should be back on the field within two weeks.

Still, they Steelers are looking for a No. 5 receiver, and with each passing day it appears they have one in their midst in Grisham, the sticky-fingered slot receiver who's in his third year with the team, most of it spent on the practice squad.

"I think this year I'm more mature," said Grisham. "I feel more like a veteran. I'm not as nervous. All of those things combine to make it a better camp for me."

A job is there for the taking. The No. 5 spot appears to be a contest between Grisham, Limas Sweed and Arnaz Battle.

"It is a battle," Grisham said. "It'll come down to not only playing receiver but special teams."

To that end yesterday, Grisham yesterday dropped the first punt he's attempted to field since his freshman year at Clemson.

He made up for it by making a sliding catch over the middle of a difficult, low fastball from Byron Leftwich and later Grisham made a diving, bobbling touchdown catch for Charlie Batch, much like the one Ward had caught earlier from Ben Roethlisberger.

Grisham was justifiably proud of catching the throw from Leftwich.

"He gets it there," Grisham said of the hard-throwing QB. "I've heard stories about Brett Favre breaking fingers. Actually last year Byron split somebody's web of their hand. That guy's not here anymore."

Grisham is. And if he keeps catching everything, he will be for a while.

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