Monday notebook: Coming together for Sweed

The Steelers travel to the nation's capital to take on the Washington Redskins tonight. Here's the game day notebook:

As they did in Troy Polamalu's rookie season, critics are calling second-round draft pick Limas Sweed a bust. But that wasn't Bruce Arians' thinking when Santonio Holmes was ruled out of last Sunday's game 48 hours before kickoff.

"You can't adjust your game plan," reasoned Arians, who must not make in-game adjustments at halftime. But that's another story. This story deals with the 6-foot-4 Sweed's development.

"I got to play football again and I had fun with it," Sweed said of his first real game experience. "I knew what to do. I knew my hot routes. Ben (Roethlisberger) and I were on the same page. I really didn't have any mistakes in the game, so that was really a positive note for me to start on."

Sweed caught three passes for 28 yards against the Giants. He was thrown the ball six times, three times on third down. He converted one of those three into first downs.

On the flip side, Sweed fumbled (and recovered) and also allowed a smaller defensive back (Kenny Phillips) to go up and intercept a last-gasp pass that a veteran receiver might've caught by walling off the defender with his body.

But Sweed was satisfied, and so was Arians, who said Sweed had a good game. Sweed carried that confidence into this past practice week and made his best catch with the team. Sweed went up over safety Tyrone Carter to catch a deep ball and he held it high and away from Carter as the two tumbled to the ground

"You caught me on a good practice," Sweed said. "But I've been having good practices the last two or three weeks. They've been really solid, just getting better and better every day."

CARTER THE STARTER

Carter is expected to replace Ryan Clark (shoulder) at free safety, but strong safety Troy Polamalu doesn't expect that to affect his freelancing – mainly because Polamalu hasn't been doing much freelancing this season.

"I've been more of a safety," he said. "I'm not moving around to different positions and playing different roles, so it won't be too confusing for someone else playing with me back there."

Polamalu said he's been able to play back because of the play of the linebackers, particularly Lawrence Timmons, who's been added to the pass-downs packages.

"It's been working so far," Polamalu said. "I play back and we've been sitting and waiting for balls to fall in our lap."

Does he prefer that style?

"I prefer winning," he said.

SO DOES LEBEAU

Dick LeBeau was just named to the Detroit Lions' 75th Season All-Time Team by a committee consisting of five members of the media and four long-time employees of the organization.

LeBeau played with the Lions from 1959 to 1972 and is the team's all-time interceptions leader with 62, six more than runner-up Lem Barney. LeBeau is one of four cornerbacks named to the team. The others are Jim David and Hall of Famers Dick "Night Train" Lane and Barney. LeBeau is not in the NFL Hall of Fame.

CAN PARKER HELP?

In seven games, Roethlisberger has been sacked 23 times. That puts him on pace to be sacked 53 times this season. Cliff Stoudt holds the modern-era (post 1968) team record with 51 sacks in 1983.

"I think much of it has to do with Willie Parker," ESPN analyst Tom Jackson said during Sunday's pre-game show. "Willie Parker in the lineup in the first few weeks, those 30-plus runs, I think protected (Roethlisberger) and the offensive line. Willie Parker might be in the lineup Monday and if so, I think he will survive. Willie Parker gets hurt and I don't think he does."

Parker will play tonight for the first time since spraining his left knee against Philadelphia in the third week of the season. He's expected to split running duties with Mewelde Moore.


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