This year, after being promoted to No. 2 receiver, Randle El is on pace to catch 32 passes for 656 yards and 2 touchdowns. Why the decline?
"We're not throwing it much," he said. "At Cincinnati, I had one attempt. The next week, against Baltimore, I caught a couple balls, then last week nothing."
Randle El opened the season with a downfield bang. He averaged 27 yards per each of his 10 catches in the first four games. But in the last four games, he caught only 6 passes for 58 yards.
Of course, two of those games were quarterbacked by back-ups Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch.
"Exactly," Randle El said. "But, hey, that was the first eight weeks. That's the way I look it. We have another eight weeks left, so let's see if we can change the tide."
One problem though: In the last four games, the quarterbacks have found a new target. Rookie tight end Heath Miller, after catching 6 passes in the first four games, caught 15 passes in the last four. What will Miller do to Randle El's game?
"He'll open it up," Randle El said with a laugh. "Let him catch the balls because it'll just open it up. It's already starting to happen. This past game he was double-covered a bunch. He had one where he was wide open that Charlie missed, but other than that they pretty much covered him up."
Miller can count on more activity tonight since the Steelers' other tight end, Jerame Tuman, injured his ankle in Thursday's practice. Tuman didn't practice Friday night and is questionable for the game.
Running back Willie Parker didn't practice Friday and will miss the game with a sprained ankle. Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis is the likely tandem tonight.
Inside linebacker James Farrior said he'll miss the game with a sprained knee. His replacement is veteran Clint Kriewaldt, who finished the Green Bay game at the inside buck linebacker spot.
For the Cleveland Browns, back-up running back William Green has been ruled out and the other back-up to Rueben Droughns, Lee Suggs, is questionable with a broken thumb. He'll be a game-time decision.
Right guard Cosey Coleman is doubtful with a knee injury and was limping noticeably late in the week. If he can't play, he'll be replaced by fourth-year veteran Mike Pucillo, who replaced Coleman last week against Tennessee.
Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon, the third Browns player to miss most of the practice week, expects to play on a tender ankle.
THE WRIGHT TIME
Jason Wright was an unlikely candidate to score the Browns' first rushing touchdown, but the street free agent was helped by injuries last week and ran six yards for a score. He carried eight times for 19 yards. It was his most significant action since leaving Northwestern as the school's fourth all-time leading rusher. He wasn't drafted in 2004.
"The myth has it that he's not fast enough," said Steelers rookie lineman and Northwestern teammate Trai Essex. "I guess he didn't have track speed but game speed is totally different. You won't find a runner that breaks as many tackles and runs as hard as he does. I've never seen him get caught from behind. He had a really good run to score the touchdown. He broke some tackles. I think people will realize he can play in this league."
They certainly will -- if he runs on the Steelers.
"I don't think that's going to happen," said Essex. "That's my buddy and everything. He has potential, a lot of it. But the best running backs can't run on this defense. You saw what they did to L.T."
The Steelers, who haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in since Oct. 3, 2004, held LaDainian Tomlinson to 62 yards on 18 carries.
Steelers wide receiver Quincy Morgan on playing with Hines Ward:
"It's been fun. He's totally different than I thought he was. He's a down-to-earth humble guy. He helps you all the time. That's unlike all the superstars that I've been around. In Dallas, those guys showed up and practiced on their own. They never really helped the young guys, but Hines is always talking to the younger guys, even me, just letting me get acclimated to what's going on on the practice field and in this system. He's been a great help. He's welcomed me with open arms and I can't ask for any more."
Notebook: Randle El's production down
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