Cowher was asked to elaborate.">
Cowher was asked to elaborate.">

Notebook: Steelers sign a guy

<b> PITTSBURGH -</b> The exodus of former Detroit Lions to Pittsburgh continued yesterday when the Steelers signed offensive lineman Barrett Brooks to a one-year contract. <br><br> Steelers Coach Bill Cowher sounded less than enthused when asked to discuss his newest player. "Barrett Brooks," was all he said to reporters. <br><br> Cowher was asked to elaborate.

"Well, he's got some experience," Cowher said. "And we thought he was the best available player that was out there at this time. Whatever contribution he can make will depend on where he is in the next three days."

Brooks becomes the fifth player on the Steelers' current roster to have played for the Lions. Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert was formerly the Lions' pro scouting director.

Brooks, Clint Kriewaldt, Chidi Iwuoma, Charlie Batch and Jeff Hartings have left the Lions for the Steelers during the last three years. The Lions have a 6-32 record during that span.

"We needed to get a guy in here, really, a veteran guy," Cowher said. "So we'll see where he is by the end of the week and see what kind of contribution, if any, he'll be able to make this Sunday."

The Steelers were down to seven serviceable linemen after tackle Mathias Nkwenti was placed on injured reserve with a back injury.

Starting tackle Marvel Smith is doubtful for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, but practiced with the scout team Wednesday after teammates had replaced their pads with lighter "shells." Smith has a pinched nerve in his left shoulder and practiced in full gear.

Brooks, too, was in full gear before, during and after practice. He had his packed bags with him in the locker room because he didn't know whether he'd be signed to a contract. Brooks showed up at the practice facility at 11 a.m. to work out, ate a quick lunch and then signed a contract at 11:50 a.m. He was on the practice field at 12:10 p.m.

"I feel like a pretty good fit here," he said. "I'm pretty comfortable about the people here. I know a couple people, Hartings, Batch, Clint Kriewaldt. I played with those guys before. I feel good about it."

Brooks, a 6-foot-4, 325-pound eight-year veteran out of Kansas State, signed with an NFL team for the ninth time Wednesday. He's made 62 career starts, but none since the 2000 season. His most recent team, the New York Giants, cut him prior to this season's opening game.

"I played right tackle and right guard with the Giants," he said. "But 15 minutes before a preseason game I went in and played left guard for them, and one game I started at left tackle for them, so it really just depends on where you want me. I've played all positions."

The Steelers added offensive tackle Josh Burr (6-9, 320) to their practice squad and released safety Russell Stuvaints for the third time.

Burr was a member of the team's practice squad last season but was released during the final cuts prior to this season.

"I tried to work out and stay in shape," Burr said of his time off. "I took a part-time job back home in Wisconsin. I figured since through the years so many teams need linemen during the season that I'd get a call."

The Steelers were the second team to call Burr this season. He'd previously worked out for the Baltimore Ravens.

St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk may be able to play Sunday, according to his coach, Mike Martz.

Faulk has missed the last three games with a broken hand and torn knee cartilage and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

"He practiced (Wednesday) and we may have him in a limited capacity. We will see. I am not sure," said Martz. "He'll do some light work and we'll see how sore he is and see how it works out. There's a possibility we could have him for the game."

Faulk, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is 15th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 10,511 yards. In two career games against the Steelers, Faulk has 116 yards on 35 carries (3.3 average).

"The knee is healed and it's just a matter of strength right now," Martz said. "When a guy's leg is just not as strong as the other one, it's just not a good situation. … At best, he would be there for emergency use, but we do expect him for next week."

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