Steelers Sunday Notebook:

Gibson waived for McLendon; Reed looks back; LeBeau, Arians get specific; and more.

Barring an unexpected recovery today, Brett Keisel won't play tonight for the Steelers, so on Saturday the team activated NT Steve McLendon off the practice squad.

The presence of McLendon will allow the Steelers to use their other backup nose tackle, Chris Hoke, as a reserve defensive end with Keisel and Aaron Smith injured.

To make room for McLendon, the Steelers waived rookie OLB Thaddeus Gibson, their fourth-round draft pick. Gibson hadn't been active for any game this season, and perhaps the Steelers feel Gibson is less likely than, say, Tony Hills to be claimed by another team. Gibson, of course, can be re-signed next week.

WHAT MIGHT'VE BEEN

The New Orleans Saints have experienced kicking woes this season. Garrett Hartley has missed 4 of 10 attempts, including a 27-yarder in an overtime loss to Atlanta. The Saints even used 46-year-old John Carney at one point this season.

The Saints probably would like to still have Steelers kicker Jeff Reed, who went to camp with the Saints in 2002. The Saints' special teams coach at the time was Al Everest, who's now the Steelers' special teams coach.

"He didn't cut me, (coach Jim) Haslett did," Reed said. "But it's tough. When you go into a situation like that, you know where you stand. No matter how good you kick or how much better you kick than somebody else, you know they're going to keep the veteran over the rookie."

Of course, the Saints kept Carney while Reed was signed by the Steelers, where he's gone back and forth with former kicker Norm Johnson as the organization's all-time accuracy leader.

Even though Reed has also missed four attempts this season (all 40 yards or greater), his career FG conversion percentage is .8264, which trails Johnson by .0004, or 4 ten-thousands of a point.

"Which means nothing," Reed said. "That's just one kick away."

ZONE-BLITZING ZONE

The Cleveland Browns made great use of their zone-blitz package last week in beating the Saints. Defensive end David Bowens dropped into coverage to intercept two passes, and he returned both for touchdowns.

"Now who would ever come up with such a thought as a defensive end dropping into coverage?" Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said with a smile.

It was the start of LeBeau's response to a question about whether the Saints might be better prepared for a heavy dose of zone-blitzing this week.

"Oh, they do it themselves. They play against it in practice I'm sure," LeBeau said. "Cleveland was fortunate. They played a great game, really, and they had the ball bounce their way a couple times on those interceptions that the defensive lineman scored on. But I think in the long run, it will neither hinder nor help us either way. Each game unfolds in its own entity and each snap is different. I'm sure that they see the zone blitz. I know that they run it on their own defense."

Also – it was pointed out to LeBeau – the Browns' front seven milled around at the line of scrimmage before passing downs, much like the Steelers do.

"Now who would ever think of such a ridiculous thing?" LeBeau said to a chorus of laughter from reporters.

SPUTTERING RUN GAME

With all of their offensive weapons healthy, and the potential to achieve balance at its greatest, the Steelers had their worst rushing performance of the season last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Steelers rushed 27 times for a season-low 58 yards and a season-low average of 2.1 per carry.

Was it due to a change in approach in Ben Roethlisberger's second game back at quarterback?

"No," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "It was just poor blocking and poor running. (There were) a lot of miscommunications in the running game last week and hopefully it's something we've corrected."


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