PITTSBURGH – Though he likely won't suit up for the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, cornerback Bryant McFadden is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from a high ankle sprain suffered in the team's loss earlier this month at Arizona.
In fact, even though McFadden is listed as doubtful to play this week when the Steelers travel to Denver, he has been on the practice field this week getting his legs back under him.
"I'm ahead of schedule," said McFadden. "But I don't want to push it too hard and hurt myself more long-term. We're kind of taking it easy, but it feels good to be back out there running around again. I've never had an ankle injury before, so this was new territory for me."
Rookie William Gay has moved up into McFadden's No. 3 corner spot in his absence and was part of a Pittsburgh defense that handed Seattle its first shutout since 2000 Oct. 7.
"That just shows you the kind of depth we have," said McFadden. "That's a good thing. Competition is good. It makes you work harder and it's the sign of a good team. One guy goes down and the next guy steps up and you don't miss a beat."
It can also make you work harder to come back from injury.
"Definitely," McFadden admitted. "But I'm cheering for these guys no matter if I'm in there or not. I'm still part of this team."
Hanging with the enemy
While at the University of Georgia, Steelers receiver Hines Ward helped recruit Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey to that school. The two remain close friends and Ward hung out with Bailey in Georgia during the bye week.
Running back Willie Parker did the same with Broncos' cornerback Dre Bly, who like Parker is a University of North Carolina product.
"Each and every game, he says, man, don't hit me hard now," said Ward of Bailey, who stayed with Ward during his recruiting trip. "We talk after the game. I know his family, and he knows mine. I'll text him during the week, wish him good luck."
Will there be any trash talking?
"No trash talking, it's all friendly," Ward said.
Parker couldn't say the same thing about his fellow former Tar Heel.
"He was telling me all kind of things he was going to do to me," said Parker of Bly. "The guy's only 200 pounds. I had to laugh at that.
"The only thing I told him was I was going to run him over in the open field."
In the week leading up to the team's 21-14 loss at Arizona earlier this season, head coach Mike Tomlin did not pump any crowd noise into the Steelers' practices to help prepare the team for what it would face in that game.
The Steelers were penalized for four false start penalties.
"We had those false starts, so I guess you could say noise was a factor," said guard Alan Faneca.
As the team prepares to go to Denver, Tomlin said he learned his lesson this time around and will use noise at practice, though he did not do so Wednesday.
"I think coach got mad about that for the way we played," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I'm sure you'll see some crowd noise this week."
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.