Steelers still leaning to Jones over Roethlisberger

The Steelers' quarterback situation through the eyes of the coordinators, and other notes from a Thursday on the South Side.

PITTSBURGH -- Thursday's workout was nearly a facsimile of the previous day's in regard to the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterbacking situation:

A. The team confirmed it's getting Landry Jones ready to play Sunday in Kansas City.

B. Ben Roethlisberger confirmed he's getting several reps with the scout team and some with the first team.

C. The team confirmed it's getting practice-squad wide receiver Tyler Murphy reps with the scout team in case they need a backup with Mike Vick injured.

For what is Chiefs coach Andy Reid planning?

"We have to prepare for both of them and make sure we’re ready for both of them," Reid said. He paused and added, "I’m sure Ben Roethlisberger will be ready to go."

That may well be the case. Roethlisberger told that he "probably did a little more" work on Thursday. "I felt fine," he said. "I felt normal. The knee didn't swell up, so I felt good."

Roethlisberger, of course, is at the tail end of a recovery from a sprained left MCL and bone bruise. He's missed three games and the Steelers went 2-1 with Vick and Jones in relief. According to offensive coordinator Todd Haley, "We're full speed ahead with Landry until told otherwise."

That decision will be made by Mike Tomlin after consultation with doctors at the end of the week.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked if Reid will truly prepare for both Roethlisberger and Jones.

"You prepare for their best, and if you don't get it, then so what?" Butler said. "I don't know too many people that try to get two game plans ready to go."


Roethlisberger may be throwing well this week, but the concern, of course, is whether he can defend himself in the pocket in Arrowhead Stadium "a hostile place that I know first-hand can be pretty loud," said Haley, "with some of the top outside rushers in the game."

Those outside rushers are Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, who met at Roethlisberger's chest plate and knocked him out of action in 2012.

The Steelers have played the Chiefs three times with those bookends, and won all three times, but they combined to hit Roethlisberger six times, sacking him only once but it was Houston's helmet that displaced Roethlisberger's first rib and cost the Steelers their quarterback for three and a half games.

Of the two, Houston has emerged as the bigger threat. His 52.5 sacks total since he entered the league in 2011 is second only to J.J. Watt's 61. This year Houston has four sacks.

Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers' right tackle who missed that 2012 game, calls Houston the best strong-side pass-rusher "by far in the NFL."

Gilbert knows Houston perhaps better than any of Houston's NFL opponents. The two have been tangling since they were SEC underclassmen.

"I think that I've won more," Gilbert said. "Of course, he's given me some problems in the past, but it's a good fun matchup because I know him so well."


* Cornerback Antwon Blake (thumb) returned to practice with a small cast on his left hand. He suffered "a little fracture" while making a tackle in the first quarter last Sunday. Butler was asked if he has any concern there.

"Hey, we all would love to have daggone Darrelle Revis, but we don't," Butler said. "In my opinion (secondary coach) Carnell Lake has done a great job in terms of getting these guys prepared each and every week. We've given up some yards and stuff like that but the thing that matters the most at the end of the day is: Do we have more points than they do?"

* Defensive end Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers' leading sacker, missed his second practice this week with a sprained knee. Butler mentioned several possible replacements starting with Cam Thomas.

"We'll rotate them in and out," Butler said.

* Ryan Shazier (shoulder) appears to finally be ready to play after missing the last three games. But Butler seemed to be holding his breath after Shazier's second consecutive practice.

"I don't want to jump out in front of him and say he can or can't play. We're going to wait and see how his shoulder is when we get to the end of the week. Only he knows that."


Cameron Heyward has been fined for writing his late father's nickname, "Ironhead," on his eye black patches throughout October, the NFL's breast cancer awareness month. Heyward agreed to stop because of A.) money and B.) the potential for distraction to the team.

Craig Heyward died of bone cancer in 2006 at the age of 39. Cam's heard from several people who knew his father "whether it's from Twitter or just people reaching out," he said. "Some remembered when my dad was at the Rice (Diet) program down at Duke, or remembered when my dad was going through his cancer struggles and would visit other patients, just talking to them. Those people have reached out to me and they've appreciated that I'm trying to shine awareness on every cancer. It's not just a particular cancer; it's for everybody. I don't want to take anything away from breast cancer, but there are so many people struggling with this."

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