PITTSBURGH -- In two practices, tight end Ladarius Green has impressed the Pittsburgh Steelers with his understanding of the offense. However, no one's ready to set a timetable on his return to game action.
"I wouldn't get into that," said offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "He's out here. He's working. He's progressing. When the time comes to make that decision, coach will have the final say."
The Steelers finished up their bye week work schedule Tuesday. They won't practice again until Monday and won't play again until the following Sunday, Nov. 6, at Baltimore.
By that time, they hope to have Ben Roethlisberger back, and having Green on the field would give the QB a 6-6, 240-pounder who, according to Haley, "is a big body, rangy guy who can run. He can take short passes, much like some of our receivers, and turn them into big plays. He's a big target. He'll help across the board. When you have a big target to throw to, who knows how to get open, that adds one more weapon. We can create matchups in the pass game specifically to move the football."
Green, of course, has been out of action since he signed a four-year, $20 million deal as a free agent from San Diego last March. He underwent ankle surgery and has been on the PUP list until this week. The Steelers have less than three weeks to activate him, otherwise he stays on the PUP list the rest of the year.
Any guess at a timetable?
"Everybody's different," Haley said. "Ladarius obviously has stayed in it mentally, which is real impressive for as long as he's been sitting on the outside. Just from these first couple practices, the mental side of it is not an issue. We haven't been in pads. We've got to get in pads and see where he is in that way, but just what we've seen to this point has been real positive and shown a lot about him."
Roethlisberger participated in individual drills for a second consecutive day and is causing optimism that he'll return soon from knee surgery nine days ago.
"He was moving a little bit and got to make some throws," said quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner. "It's always good when he's working with the young quarterbacks, too."
Could he have done more?
"I don't know because we didn't push him much," Fichtner said. "He probably wouldn't want to do more. I think the schedule says hold till next week. That would give him four more days to rest."
Fichtner said that having Roethlisberger back on the practice field next week would "Be great. But we've got to get prepared as if he's not. We'll just wait and see what the doctor says."
Injuries, ineffectiveness and improvement by a variety of individuals have thrown the wide receiver group into a bit of a jumble.
Here's what the coaches had to say about those in question:
* Eli Rogers -- Didn't play in the last game even though he said he was over his turf toe injury. "He's just got to do the little things," said Haley. "He's got to show that he's accountable and that we can trust him that he'll be the same guy every day. If he does that, he's shown he can do the things on the field necessary to make plays and help us."
* Cobi Hamilton -- Promoted from practice squad two games ago because of injuries. "He's done a very good job in the run game," Haley said. "He gives us a big receiver that can block the force -- the safety -- in some of our run looks. He's another big target that hasn't been afraid to make plays. He made a couple critical third-down conversions in the (last) game. Miami was probably over but he got in that game and made some plays. He's a hungry guy who wants to contribute and be a complete football player/ For our team, with how we're capable of running the football, that means the dirty work of blocking. That's impressed everybody."
* Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates -- Receivers coach Richard Mann confirmed Wheaton took part in individual drills this week after missing five games intermittently with a shoulder injury. Wheaton said on Monday that he expects to practice next week and play at Baltimore. Coates continues to practice with a broken index finger.
SEAN BACK IN THE SLOT
Second-round draft pick Sean Davis started the season as the slot corner in the nickel but was moved to his natural safety position, behind Rob Golden, prior to the Miami game. DBs coach Carnell Lake isn't giving up on the original position just yet.
"He worked the slot today," Lake said. "I threw him in there originally, slid him back a little bit to regroup, and got him back in there. That's where he is."null