Pittsburgh Steelers Team Notes

WR Plaxico Burress has a partial solution for the Steelers failures in the red zone: Use him more. The Steelers pulled him from last week's game when they reached the Titans' 14 in the second quarter. The 6-5 1/2 star stood on the sideline and watched as Jerome Bettis ran two plays for five yards out of the I-formation. They also rarely throw the fade pattern to him despite his size.

"We don't really call it a lot," Burress said. "I would like to because that's when the game gets fun, when I get to go out there and use my ability and tell Tommy to just throw it up there and put it in a place where I can go get it and have fun."

--Hines Ward moved into second place on the Steelers career list with 361 receptions. Louis Lipps caught 358. John Stallworth leads with 537. "It's a big honor," Ward said. He leads the AFC with 32 catches.

--Defenses are rushing up the middle, not worrying if the Steelers quarterback will run to the outside the way they used to. It's different with Tommy Maddox in the pocket than it was with Kordell Stewart.

"Kordell, they had to contain. Tommy, they don't have to contain," All-Pro guard Alan Faneca said. "So, effectively, they're getting more of a push maybe up the middle a little more because they don't have to arc that guy wide to contain Kordell. So, as compared to Kordell, we are seeing different blitzes."

--The Steelers have scored first in all four games. They led Baltimore 27-0 before winning 34-15. They led Kansas City 10-0 and 17-7 but lost 41-10. They led Cincinnati 7-0 and won 17-10. They led Tennessee 10-0 but lost 30-13.

--After allowing three passes for 96 yards -- of the 161 Steve McNair had Sunday -- cornerback Chad Scott said it was just one of those days. "I know I'm good. I can play against any receiver -- anybody, anywhere in the league."

GAME PLAN VS BROWNS: Look for the Steelers to play more nickel on Sunday night than they have all season. They don't fear Cleveland's running game with William Green nearly as much as they do their passing game. Offensively, they will try to run on the Browns to take some of the pressure off QB Tommy Maddox. Also look for them to go down field more than they have in the passing game.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns left DE Courtney Brown could have a big day against Steelers RT Todd Fordham, who had a poor outing last week vs. the Titans.

--330-pound NT Casey Hampton of the Steelers vs. rookie C Jeff Faine.

--Steelers pass rushers on the right -- Joey Porter and Kendrell Bell -- vs. left OT Barry Stokes, a weak link in the Browns' line.

--WR Kevin Johnson and Quincy Morgan of Cleveland vs. Steelers weak-link corners Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Steelers average only 3.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns rushing in four games. Last year, they averaged 4.1 yards rushing.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm going to make a couple more touchdowns with interceptions this year and they can criticize all they want." -- Oft-criticized CB Chad Scott

RB Verron Haynes returned to active duty last Sunday after missing one game with a knee injury but he did not return fulltime to his job as the third-down back. He split time with Amos Zereoue, who starts at RB.

--WR Plaxico Burress is questionable with a hip pointer but he should play against Cleveland Sunday. He did not practice on Wednesday.

--TE Jay Riemersma has a shoulder injury, is questionable and did not practice on Wednesday. If he cannot go, Jerame Tuman -- not Mark Bruener --likely would replace him.

--WR Hines Ward leads AFC receivers with 31 receptions. He left last week's game in the fourth quarter with a slight concussion but is not on the injury list this week.

--OT Marvel Smith, who did not play last week, did not practice on Wednesday. Smith has a shoulder nerve injury and the Steelers missed him against Tennessee.

--P Josh Miller, a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, will play Sunday night against Cleveland even though the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur starts at 4 p.m.

INJURY IMPACT: Three starters are questionable for Sunday night's game against Cleveland at Heinz Field -- WR Plaxico Burress (hip pointer), TE Jay Riemersma (shoulder) and OT Marvel Smith (shoulder). Burress said he would play. If Smith misses a second straight game, Oliver Ross will again replace him at left OT. Riemersma likely would be replaced by Jerame Tuman if he cannot go.

"All of those guys have a chance of playing," Coach Bill Cowher said.

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