Lewis Hurt But Insists He'll Play

With Ike Taylor out, Keenan Lewis will be asked to contain Bengals star WR A.J. Green. But Lewis got off to a bad start at Wednesday's practice.

PITTSBURGH – When Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that freakishly talented Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green "plays the ball above our level," he probably didn't have Keenan Lewis in mind.

The Steelers' most experienced cornerback with Ike Taylor injured, Lewis went way – way – up to bat away a potential touchdown pass to Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

Lewis was so high off the ground that when he came down he slammed his body on the ground, limped off the field and didn't return. "I didn't think I could jump that high actually," Lewis said.

But he assured reporters that he'll play Sunday.

That was before Wednesday's practice.

During Wednesday's practice, Lewis said he aggravated the hip flexor injury that forced him out of the Cowboys game, and he had to leave practice.

"I'm good," he assured. "I'm still playing."

That's almost a must if the Steelers are to contain Green, beat the Bengals, and make the playoffs, because Green, of course, is the Bengals' offense.

Green has 85 catches this season, and with 1,208 receiving yards he needs 233 in the final two games to surpass Chad Johnson's team record of 1,440 set in 2007.

Since being drafted with the fourth pick of the 2011 draft, Green's 18 receiving touchdowns are the most in the AFC. But he's struggled a bit against the Steelers. In three games, Green has only 9 catches for 131 yards.

Green does have a touchdown in each game against the Steelers, but was injured on the 36-yard touchdown pass he caught last season in Cincinnati, and this season his 8-yard touchdown catch was his only catch in the Steelers' 24-17 win.

Much of that solid defense can be attributed to Taylor, who was assigned to lock Green down in all three games.

But this week the baton had been passed to Lewis, who's been one of the top players on the league's top-ranked pass defense. According to STATS LLC, Lewis leads the NFL with 21 passes defensed.

"He's another long cornerback," said Green. "He has long arms. He is playing very well. I am going to have to be patient on my releases and keep his hands down."

How will Lewis slow Green down?

"There ain't really no slowing him down," said Lewis. "I've got to go home and watch tape. I told Mike [Wallace] ‘Don't come to my house this week.' I'll watch a lot of tape on him, see the things he likes and things he dislikes, and try to go from there."

But, will Lewis be 100 percent healthy?

"Week 15, I don't think I'm going to be a hundred percent," he said. "But I'll be ready to go."

NOTES – Also missing practice Wednesday were DE Cameron Heyward (not injury related), SS Troy Polamalu (not injury related) and DE Al Woods (illness). Limited in practice were OT Mike Adams (ankle) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (rib). ... LG Willie Colon was placed on injured reserve with his knee injury to make room for the reinstatement of Rashard Mendenhall. ... The only player missing the entire Bengals practice Wednesday was DE Carlos Dunlap (illness).

Steel City Insider Top Stories