The Pittsburgh Steelers respond to the Denver DBs and more in this mid-week notebook

Read what the Steelers' receivers had to say about Denver's boasting following an energetic Wednesday practice.

PITTSBURGH -- If Denver hoped it was going to sneak into Pittsburgh and steal a win from a team hungover after an emotional win on the road, its secondary wrecked the plan.

The Broncos are the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, and they're not shy about saying it.

"They're hot because they haven't played us yet," Broncos safety T.J. Ward said of the Steelers in Tuesday's edition of The Denver Post. "A lot of teams were hot before they played us."

The Broncos haven't allowed a 300-yard passer this season, nor 30 points in any game, but the Steelers have put up plenty of both numbers lately. Their star receivers, though, didn't want to get into a war of words about it.

"Guys are going to do whatever it takes to get inside my head," said Antonio Brown. "Guys are going to do whatever it takes to put more emphasis on the game. But the real point of emphasis is this: Who's going to be the most detailed that day? Who's going to do their assignment? Who's going to win the most matchups? That's all that counts, man. The words, the chatter, we've got to stay composed and do what it is that we do: Be a professional and play football."

According to The Post, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris will cover Brown.

Harris, according to the paper, hasn't allowed a touchdown in over two years.

"Two years?" Brown asked. "Well, hey, man, it's time to give him a challenge."

Brown has 100 catches for 1,397 yards this season. He leads the NFL in third-down catches, third-down receiving yards and catches of 25 yards or more.

"It adds extra motivation," he said of Harris' shutout streak. "That's what makes competition, and I'm excited about that competition. If he's going to stick with me this week, good luck to him."

Martavis Bryant, the Steelers' deep threat with a 17.7 yards-per-catch average, didn't seem too concerned about the Broncos' bravado, either.

"I guess he wants to talk himself into some confidence, so we'll let him do that," Bryant said. "As far as us feeding into all that talking and stuff, we don't talk. We just go out and play. We're going to let our play do the talking. We shall see on Sunday."

The 6-foot-1 Aqib Talib is expected to cover the 6-4 (and soon to be 24-year-old) Bryant.

"It really doesn't matter who covers me," Bryant said. "It's my birthday on Sunday so I'm going to let it all hang out. I'm going to have fun with it."


Stephon Tuitt, the defensive lineman who made the key play Sunday by intercepting Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton in the red zone, intercepted another pass during Wednesday's practice.

"Call me the DB/Defensive Lineman," Tuitt said with a laugh. "Yeah, I got one today. I just read the play. I could tell an offensive lineman was trying to get off the ball and I just happened to be in the right place and the quarterback threw it at me."

Just like Sunday.

"I think he's getting more aware and understanding what offenses are going to do," said linemate Cam Heyward. "You do that and you're going to put yourself in some good situations."

Tuitt played tight end in high school. Perhaps he can join one of Mike Tomlin's two-point conversion parties one of these weeks.

"I'm not going to mention anything right now," Tuitt said. "But maybe next year."


After Heyward accepted a $10,000 check from Nationwide Insurance, on behalf of his charity, the Heyward House, he stepped to the microphone and asked reporters to forgive him because he was a bit wore out from practice.

Heyward had admitted earlier that it was an energetic practice.

"I thought practice was pretty good," Heyward said. "We have a lot we're looking at with Denver, offensively and defensively and on special teams, so I think everybody's just focused right now. There's been no let-off. Even though it was emotional last week, I don't think it really drained us. I think we just have a big task at hand and I think we're just turning up the noise right now."

No fear of a letdown?

"Not at all," he said.

As for his charitable endeavors, which focus on outreach programs for kids, the Steelers' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee considers it a labor of love.

"I want to do it," Heyward said. "There's not a push to do it. It's not like I need to be motivated for it because I think everybody should have a chance. I think we have such a great platform that we can take advantage not just for ourselves but for other people. We can help people in our community."


Missing Wednesday's practice for the Steelers were OLB Bud Dupree (back), TE Heath Miller (rib), S Mike Mitchell (shoulder) and TE Matt Spaeth (knee). CB Will Gay and OLB James Harrison were given the afternoon off.
For the Broncos, QB Peyton Manning (foot) returned to practice in a limited capacity, but the team announced earlier that Brock Osweiler will start his fifth game Sunday.

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