Miller, Bell Practice -- Slowly

Notebook items: Heath Miller, Le'Veon Bell, Cortez Allen, Larry Foote, Kion Wilson, Vince Williams, Jarvis Jones, Todd Haley.

PITTSBURGH -- The pads were out Thursday -- and on Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell.

Both of the injured Steelers practiced fully, in pads, for the first time at the South Side practice facility this season.

Both, though, admitted they're merely soft-stepping out there as they try find their legs.

Miller, who tore an ACL last December, admitted he wasn't close to full speed because "I'm going through some stuff for the first time. Just to be able to do it is a positive at this point, and I think with repetition I'll get better and better at it."

It was pointed out to Miller that the danger with a struggling 0-2 team with high expectations is that it might rush a key player back too soon. Miller said that's not the case in this instance.

"Not at all," he said. "Not at all."

Might he play Sunday?

"Hopefully I continue to make progress," he said. "Obviously today was the heavy day so we'll see how it feels tomorrow and go from there."

Bell, the rookie running back with the sprained foot, said after practice, "I'm still sore. I'm not where I'm supposed to be, or where I was, but I'm going to continue to get better. As long as I continue to get better I don't see why I can't do what I need to do on the field."

Bell couldn't give an approximation of when that might be, but said his first carries Thursday "were good. I felt good. I'm still a little rusty, but it felt good to get back in there, get my feet wet a little bit. It's a nice start."

While the two key offensive components practiced, starting left cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) missed once again, putting his status in doubt for a second consecutive week.


Larry Foote showed up with his right arm in a sling yesterday and said he'll remain close to the team in order to help his replacements, Kion Wilson and Vince Williams, learn a position that even James Farrior couldn't master for a couple of seasons.

Wilson said the two young buck inside linebackers will continue to rotate Sunday night against the Chicago Bears, whose offense is similar to the one the Steelers played Monday night in Cincinnati.

"In preparation for the week so far, coaches have said we're pretty much facing the same opponent," said Wilson. "They have a lot of the same threats, a lot of the same runs. The scheme is pretty much the same."

Does that make it easier for a young linebacker who's learning on the job?

"Definitely," Wilson said. "Just coming off a week like we just had, we know the corrections that we need to make and some of the formations that we're lined up in. So hopefully it'll just roll over into the next week for us."


Jarvis Jones hasn't forced a turnover. Nor has he recorded a sack. Yet.

Ike Taylor believes both will come in bunches soon enough.

"He's got that 'it' factor," said Taylor. "It's that Troy Polamalu factor, that nose for the ball. always being around the ball. Only a few people have it, and they come once every blue moon. And he one of em."

Taylor first felt that way during training camp as he watched Jones make tackles and simultaneously rip balls loose.

"He's all over," Taylor said. "He's a ballhawk. He's a good tackler. He can cover. So, if you want to draw up a linebacker -- you know, if you're saying 'I want this linebacker to be my prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker' -- it would be Jarvis Jones."

Jones will start his second NFL game Sunday night. And none of the trio of great right outside linebackers before him -- Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter or James Harrison -- started a game as rookies.

"He's going to be as good as he wants to be," Taylor said. "And that's going to take being a professional: getting massages, taking care of your body, trying to stay injury-free, off-season training, wanting to get better, wanting to know the defense. Because on the field, his production on the field shows, so it's on him if he wants to get better. We see it. We just look from afar and see he's one of those guys who's got it -- the 'It' factor."


Offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the alleged sideline confrontation with Antonio Brown:

"It did not happen. There was no confrontation. That's all I can say."

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