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Buzz from the Steelers locker room

News items on the competition at strong safety, the pending practice of Bud Dupree and more from Monday's locker room insider.

Before Sunday's game, Terrell Suggs was asked about the mood in the Ravens locker room.

"Everything tastes bad when you lose," he said. "Everything tastes worse when you lose four in a row."

Well, the Steelers have now lost three in a row, and the mood in the locker room was pretty sour Monday. But we march on with our Tuesday morning feature that includes a couple of news items:

* Perhaps you remember a feature prior to the beginning of the year about Energy Bringers & Badasses, in which James HarrisonVince Williams and Antonio Brown erupted into chaos in their corner of the locker room, now known as "The Stoop." These guys don't talk to reporters until Friday, but I wanted to talk to Harrison on Monday about his best game of the season.

He declined.

Still, I wanted to get his reaction to his first two sacks of the season, which give him 76.5 for his career with the Steelers, one-half sack behind Jason Gildon for the all-time franchise record. So I tried to trick him the next time he passed by.

"Nice game, James."


"That tomahawk fumble, how close did you guys get to recovering that?"

"I thought Tuitt had it but I guess he was pushing Flacco down and he couldn't grab it, so Yanda grabbed it," Harrison said, as he continued walking.

The "interview" timed out at 14 seconds.

Gold, I guess, for this day.

* Speaking of outside linebackers, Bud Dupree expects to make his first practice appearance since early in training camp tomorrow. That's when the clock will begin ticking on his 21 days before the Steelers would have either activate him to keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Dupree looks healthy while going through difficult workouts on the adjacent field. He underwent surgery for a sports hernia early in September and said he'll be ready to practice Wednesday, but doesn't expect to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

* Rookie nose tackle Javon Hargrave realized right away that he wasn't playing just any other team. He realized early there was something more to a Steelers-Ravens game.

"From the git-go, on the kickoff return," said Hargrave. "Even though it was in the end zone you could tell the environment, just the way they were coming, the way everybody was coming on our end too. You could tell there was a little more into it."

Hargrave played 27 of 70 snaps and got the start again as the Steelers opened in their 3-4 for the sixth time. This was clearly their best performance against the run. Of course, much of that had to do with the return of Cam Heyward.

"Of course," Hargrave said. "He's our leader out there."

How did Hargrave play?

"I didn't get any feedback," he said. "I looked at film. There were some things I know where I might've stepped wrong and did some things wrong, but there were some good things, too. Just try to learn from that."

Stephon Tuitt played all 70 of the snaps, and played well, but he of course didn't enjoy the weekend, particularly one that began with Notre Dame's loss to Navy.

"And I'm kind of nervous about Army," Tuitt said of his alma mater's next game. "Those academy teams are hard to stop. They go for it on every down. It's not like 1-2-3-punt like a regular game. If they're in good position, they'll go for it on fourth down, so your job is to play four downs of football. If you don't play four downs of football against those teams, they can kick your butt.

"When I played Navy, I was one of two 1-techniques whose job was to stop the fullback. It's one of those games you come out of sore, you come out of it thinking you were just in a war zone."

It looked like the Steelers came to play that kind of run defense in Baltimore. Of course, the Steelers stopped the run but lost the game.

"We looked like we were back to our old selves against the run," Tuitt said. "I didn't look at the stats. I don't know how many rushing yards they had. But you've got to look at the positives after you look through all the negatives."

The Ravens rushed for 50 yards on 29 carries, an average of 1.7 per carry.

"Yeah, but we've lost three games in a row. That freakin' sucks," Tuitt said. "I really hate losing, too. But the positive is we've got everybody back defensively, and you've got to focus on the positive to see the good things you have. If we play like we did, but without the penalties and missed tackles, but if play how we did Sunday against the Ravens, defensively, we'll be able to do a lot of good things."

Tuitt dismissed the media backlash that the Steelers went into Sunday's game lacking intensity.

"I don't know how many rushing yards they had, or what they averaged, but when you do that to a team, it takes energy. That's not just oh-any-given-Sunday type of stuff. That's going in there with a game plan you worked on during the week and executing it. That's energy, you know what I mean? Especially against a team whose running back broke 30, 40-yard runs against other teams week in and week out. We stopped that running back. I think their quarterback had the longest run. It was a scramble, and if it wasn't for that scramble, take those yards out and the stats are even better."

Take out Joe Flacco's 14-yard scramble and the Ravens rushed 28 times for 36 yards, 1.3 per carry.

Ramon Foster didn't have an update on Maurkice Pouncey but expected to get one later Monday afternoon. Foster said it was probably a good sign that after suffering the right thumb injury on the second play, Pouncey came back in for the second quarter before leaving again.

The normally jovial Foster was understandably in a bad way when reporters mobbed him to ask why the team was so penalized (13 for 99 yards). Was it a lack of discipline?

"It's not discipline. It's an execution thing," Foster said. "All of us have to be pros in how we conduct our ways on Sundays, or whenever we're playing."

Someone who no doubt blamed the coach asked Foster if it bothers him to hear people blame the coach.

"It doesn't bother me, he said. "I know it definitely doesn't bother him, in the sense we've got to be steadfast in what we're doing. We can't blink. We can't be a team that points the finger. Those penalties happened individually. It hurts us as a team, though, so we've got to correct those things."

* From my my couch, I was wondering why Sean Davis was in the game every now and then, because he wasn't the slot corner with William Gay out there, and I hadn't heard of an injury to a safety. Was Davis in some kind of a dime package against the physical Ravens offense?

"No," said the rookie. "I'm competing for the starting safety job, so we were alternating series."

That was a surprise. Davis explained that Robert Golden started the game and the two rotated at strong safety throughout. Both players made two tackles.

"I made plays. I had a big tackle. Did my job," Davis said.

What about the blocked punt? It appeared to be Davis' fault when he left his position without blocking Buck Allen, who blocked the punt that resulted in the second Ravens touchdown.

"That was just a miscommunication," Davis said. "We haven't watched film with the coach. All I can say is it was miscommunication on the play. I'm not taking the blame for it and I'm not putting it on (captain and personal protector) Rob G. It was just a miscommunication."

Allen told reporters after the game he had alerted the Ravens coaching staff to Davis repeatedly vacating his position, but film shows Davis blocking Allen earlier in the game.

"We ran a play. We executed it throughout the game. I took him out a couple times and I left a couple times. Rob G had my back," Davis said. "The last time was a miscommunication. We had run the play before in the game and executed it well. I got down there and was the first one down there and Devin Hester fair-caught it. We ran it again, miscommunication."

* Punter Jordan Berry described the feeling of getting a punt blocked this way:

"You just get hit. You're dazed and disoriented and you try to see what's going on around you," he said. "You see a flash of purple and the next thing you know you're looking up at the sky wondering what the (expletive) is going on."

Shamarko Thomas was flagged for roughing the kicker on a fourth-and-11 that didn't result in any Ravens points. It irritated Mike Tomlin, who questioned the call after the game.

"I definitely agree with him," said Thomas. "We had a play to get out of the block. I got free. PP (personal protector) grabbed me and I fell and was pushed. They called it."

Thomas did make a big play on special teams when he caught a ball at the one-inch line.

How did he know he wasn't standing on the goal line?

"Just awareness," he said. "Coach Danny (Smith) taught me how to look up and make sure you're not touching the end line. I definitely knew where I was at and made the play."

Thomas was the full-time gunner for the Steelers opposite the other gunner rotation of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Cobi HamiltonAl-Hajj Shabazz and Sammie Coates.

* The killer about Thomas downing the ball at the 4-yard line is that two plays later the Ravens scored their only offensive touchdown on a 95-yard catch-and-run by speedster Mike Wallace.

One of the surprising aspects of that play was how opposite cornerback Ross Cockrell appeared to gain ground on Wallace. Another five yards and perhaps Cockrell would've made the tackle.

He was asked if he was really gaining ground and "whether that was humanly possible."

"If you ask Usain Bolt, it is definitely humanly possible," Cockrell said with a smile. "He might have a few words about that. But, yeah, you've got to do whatever it takes to win."

Cockrell said the Steelers did play a little bit more press-man, but that "really, the only thing different was Artie starting."

That's actually rookie Artie Burns' second start in place of Gay, according to the New England gamebook. And Cockrell said the move paid off.

"He caught an interception," Cockrell said of Burns. "We're finally on the board and I'm glad he got to enjoy his first one."

Will it open the floodgates for a secondary that now has one interception for the season?

"I hope so. I hope so," Cockrell said. "Will and I have been starting all season and he comes in and gets one, so it's time for us to step up."

Cody Wallace was placed on IR last week because his injured knee "just wasn't making any progress." So, if Pouncey can't play center with his thumb injury, that leaves it up to B.J. Finney, who replaced Pouncey on Sunday.

Finney, who played left guard so well against the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this season, was a four-year starting center at Kansas State.

He hadn't heard an update about Pouncey, either.

"I have no idea and I like to keep it that way so when I tell you I don't know, it's the truth," Finney said. "Wherever Coach T and the coaches decide is what's going to happen."

Finney has rotated through all three interior positions since spring OTAs and doesn't care where he's asked to line up. But he did have a few low shotgun snaps and was asked about it.

"I didn't hear anything from Ben or the coaches, so I just thought they were good," he said. "If I don't hear anything, that's a good thing."

One snap eluded Ben Roethlisberger's grasp but was picked up by Le'Veon Bell for a 4-yard gain.

"I didn't know that," Finney said.

Jarvis Jones was one of the Steelers defenders flying around the field, but he appeared to hurt himself with his second wicked hit of the game. Jones said he's all right.

"His knee went through my stomach," Jones said. "When I tackled him I ended up falling on his knee and it felt like it went all the way to my back, knocked the wind out of me."

Was he throwing his body around more than usual?

"I was just playing, man. We had a great game plan. I felt we had a great week of preparation. I was just trying to make some plays, fly around."

* New day, same mob of reporters surrounding Ladarius Green, who has until next Tuesday at 4 p.m. to be activated or he'll remain on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

"It's never the way I hoped but it's been pretty good. I haven't had no setbacks or anything like that," Green said.
Are the Steelers waiting for him to take another step in recovery?

"I'm not sure but I think I can progress a little bit more. I'm not fully where I want to be but I'm still moving around pretty good. There hasn't been much negative."

Green said he hasn't heard a word from anyone about a pending activation. Tomlin will likely address the issue at today's press conference.


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