Steelers Notebook:

Did Ramon Foster win his old job back? Will Mike Wallace reach his absurd goal? Does Ziggy Hood feel like he's wasting time? Read Jim Wexell's notebook.

Pittsburgh – Maybe it had something to do with getting smoked by New England the week before. Maybe it was just a coincidence.

But for the Steelers' next game, against the Oakland Raiders late last November, Mike Tomlin cut Jeff Reed, activated Antonio Brown, and started Ramon Foster at right guard.

Reed is now out of the league while Brown has become an explosive offensive threat.

Foster? Well, after starting the rest of the season and through the Super Bowl, he was benched this August.

Doug Legursky took Foster's job before the final preseason game this season. Foster explained how it went down.

"Coach had a little meeting with us, me, Tony [Hills] and Doug," Foster said. "Basically Doug was more consistent with his play as far as mental errors and stuff like that. He said it's one of those things where it was a close race."

Apparently, Tomlin had made up his mind there would be a new right guard this season. Legursky started the first preseason game. Hills started the next two. Legursky started the last one and then the first two regular-season games.

Foster, meanwhile, just returned to the starting lineup to replace injured Chris Kemoeatu at left guard, and he played well enough to perhaps jump back into the running at right guard.

"I liked his effort, his finish, his play demeanor. It's what we desire," said Tomlin.

Had all of this been a grand ploy to motivate Foster into improving his effort, finish and play demeanor?

"I don't know but I definitely wanted to show more than what I had been putting out there," said Foster. "Whether they were looking for that or not, I just know one of the standards we have as an offensive line is to be aggressive and show it play after play. Maurkice [Pouncey] came last year and set a different tone for our offensive line and that's the direction I wanted to go."

On one memorable play Sunday against Seattle, Foster pulled right and took out three Seahawks to spring Isaac Redman's 20-yard touchdown run.

"Red made it that much better by scoring a touchdown. I've got to give thanks to him," Foster said. "I was just doing my job right there."

Foster moved over to right guard in Wednesday's practice because of some shuffling due to Pouncey's sore hamstring. Perhaps the job is his to keep.

WALLACE JUST OFF PACE

After two weeks, wide receiver Mike Wallace is second in the NFL with 16 catches and fourth with 233 yards. That puts him on pace for 128 catches for 1,864 yards, or 136 yards below his stated goal of 2,000.

"Yeah. Kind of got to get that up. It's been kind of a slow start," Wallace said. "I need to make some more plays for our team."

Of course, 2,000 yards is an absurdly high number. The NFL record, held by Jerry Rice, is 1,848 yards. Rice set that mark in 1995.

Wallace explained that he really wasn't serious when he made the statement.

"They asked me with E and Tony standing right there," Wallace said of reporters at training camp talking to Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and himself.

"They were like, ‘These two guys say they're going for a thousand yards. What's your goal?' I was like, ‘Two thousand.' I was just saying something and it blew up. So I've just got to roll with it and I'm rolling with it."

PATIENCE UNDER HOOD

Ziggy Hood was given a taste of life as a starting defensive end last season when Aaron Smith was injured in October. Hood started the last 10 games of the regular season and then started all three playoff games. He had 3 sacks in the regular season and 2 in the playoffs, with 4 of those sacks coming in his final five games.

Of course, Smith has returned to his spot and Hood went back to the bench for the first two games this season. He could return to the lineup

Sunday to replace the other end, Brett Keisel, who's questionable with a knee injury.

Hood said he wouldn't have any trouble moving over to the right side.

"It's probably not as hard (as OT) because you have to figure your footwork out as you listen to different calls," Hood said. "But if you practice it during the week, and maybe some time during the offseason, you get used to both sides. That's what I have been doing. I may not have been taking reps at right (DE), but during the individual periods I've been working left and right just in case something happens."

Not that he would complain whether he's starting or not. Hood says he's ready, but not frustrated

"Oh, no. I'm 24 years old. I've got a lot of time to go," he said. "All I need is one good play to get it going and I can go up from there."


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