PITTSBURGH -- With some bonus days between Thursday and Monday night games, the Pittsburgh Steelers had some bonus faces -- new and old -- at Monday's bonus practice.
* Like Martavis Bryant.
"I've been playing football since I was six years old," said the scary-good and still improving wide receiver. "It's no different to me. Once I'm back I'm back and I'm ready to get going and get back on the field."
Bryant, of course, was suspended four weeks for failing another drug test. He spent three weeks under John Lucas' care, worked out twice a day, caught passes from his trainer, watched the Steelers every time they took the field without him and communicated with Ben Roethlisberger every morning.
"I learned a lot about myself, especially from the mistakes I made, and honestly I learned from it," Bryant said. "Now I want to move on from it, put it in the past."
"He's one of the more talented guys that I've had as a teammate throughout my career," said veteran tight end Heath Miller. "I don't know the specifics behind (the suspension), but I do know that when he's here he's a good teammate. He works hard. He comes to work every day. From a personal level, I want the best for him. He's a teammate and I'm glad to have him back because he's a real threat."
With Markus Wheaton having left Thursday's game with an ankle injury, Bryant can be expected to receive extensive playing time Monday night in San Diego.
The two injured defenders confirmed they practiced Monday and believe they can play in San Diego.
Shazier said the strength has returned to the shoulder he injured late in Week 2, causing him to miss the last two games.
"Yeah, it's feeling better, a whole lot better," he said from his new location at Troy Polamalu's old locker. "I just want to be back out there with my guys, so I'm going to do whatever I have to do to be back out there with them."
McCullers, a backup tackle in both the 3-4 and 4-3, has been an underrated loss as a run-stopper. He's missed two games with a sprained MCL.
"It felt better out there today," said the big man. "I feel like this week it's going to continue to get better. Still not all the way there, though."
McCullers agreed that he had been playing well at the start of his second season, and said "I should be ready Monday."
The blue-eyed kicker looked reporters in the eyes with confidence, and in speaking Boswell stuck to what should be a mantra for all kickers:
"Kicking's kicking," said the 24-year-old who has yet to kick in a regular-season NFL game. "Doesn't really matter who's watching. If you're on your own or if it's Monday Night Football, you want to take the same mental preparation going into every, single kick."
Boswell said he takes that approach whether it's in practice or whether he's lining up for a 50-yarder against Texas.
He made 74 percent of his total field-goal attempts, but he did miss eight of his 172 extra-point attempts. He also missed both of his extra-point attempts during his 2014 training camp with the Houston Texans.
With the New York Giants at this year's camp, Boswell attempted four field goals, and made all four in a 12-9 win at New England.
Boswell said the timing wasn't right for a young kicker at either pro stop, but he's getting the opportunity here after Josh Scobee was released. Boswell said he kicked very well in the elements during Saturday's tryout at Heinz Field.
"It was good. It was an experience," he said. "It was pouring rain and windy, all the elements you want. I hear it gets pretty bad up here so it was kind of a good test and good competition as well."
Boswell said he kicked at both ends of the field and "I kicked very well."
"The little bit I saw of him kick he's got a strong leg," said veteran long-snapper Greg Warren. "He's been very consistent. He's got a very good demeanor about himself, nice, calm demeanor and goes about his business. I think he's going to be good."
Not really a missing face, unless you missed him in the locker room Thursday night following the gut-wrenching loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But Brown was happy to answer questions Monday, even about the incomplete, high, fourth-and-1 pass that Michael Vick said "is going to haunt me for a long time."
"I think it's going to haunt us all, man," said Brown, who admitted he did have touble with the left-hander's spin on the dropped pass in the end zone. Brown cited the spin on a practice drop Monday, and said it IS a real thing.
"Yeah, it is man" Brown said. "It's something we've got to work on. The balls come in with that left spin. I put the Jugs (machine) on after practice just to get on the positive scheme of things.
"I think this will be a great week," he added. "I think we're all excited for a full week of preparation to see what we can do. I'm looking forward to being on the details of things and making sure I'm ready to go."