Sunday Notebook: Gay taking next step

Also, Rashard Mendenhall Q&A; LeBeau for the Hall; Baker's regrets.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the San Diego Chargers this afternoon. Here's Jim Wexell's game-day notebook: PITTSBURGH – William Gay will make his first professional start at 4:15 this afternoon at Heinz Field against the San Diego Chargers, but that doesn't concern Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin.

"No," Tomlin said. "Really, not concerned, excited. We've had a bunch of second-year players step up and deliver for us: LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Matt Spaeth. It's just his turn. It's his opportunity and usually that's the case. We're excited for him. The standard is the standard and we look forward to him meeting it."

Gay should be able to meet this simple challenge. After all, this is a young man whose step-father murdered his mother back when he was eight years old in Tallahassee, Florida. The step-father then killed himself.

"I don't know what was going through his head," Gay said in the new book Steeler Nation. "He knew she was about to leave him because we were moving to my grandmother's. Then he came where she was chillin' and shot her."

Gay believes his step-father would've killed him and his little brother had they not just been dropped off. Gay's real father had left the family when he was an infant and died when Gay was 12.

Gay was raised in the projects by his grandmother, but received a scholarship to Louisville, became an All-Big East cornerback, was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round last year and will start this afternoon.

"It was rough at first," Gay said. "But I decided to take it for all it's worth."

Q&A: RASHARD MENDENHALL

Q: How's the broken scapula?

A: Everything's going pretty well. No surgery. It's coming together. It's started to calcify. Everything's going well.

Q: Ray Lewis bragged about hurting you. Have you read the comments?

A: No, but I heard about it from other people. He's into it I guess.

Q: He said that right after the hit he was screaming, ‘He's done!' Did you hear him say that?

A: I heard something about that, but, no, I didn't hear him say it on the field.

Q: The Ravens made up the text-message story, didn't they?

A: I have no idea about all of that stuff. I didn't have any involvement in anything like that. Anybody who knows me, knows who I am. You ask my friends and they'll all tell you that's not my style.

Q: How's your motivation right now?

A: I'm trying to take things one step at a time. It's tough seeing games on Sunday and not being out there, so I try to keep things in perspective. There's nothing I can do right now.

Q: Are you lifting?

A: Not upper body. I'm doing legs and cardio and stuff like that.

Q: Will this, as they say, help the tread on your tires?

A: When I have to look on the bright side of this I say that. I guess I'm not taking a beating this year, and next year when I come back I'll still only be 22 and all the rookie stuff will be behind me. I'll just be able to play ball.

Q: How's your brother Walter doing at Illinois State?

A: Good. He rushed for over 200 yards last week [225 vs. Youngstown State].

Q: Really?

A: Yeah. He's going to get a chance to play in this league. He's strong, fast. He's built like me. Someone will give him a chance.

Q: Why not here?

A: That's a good question. I'll tell Mr. Colbert about him.

HALL OF FAME

Aaron Smith was the only starter at his locker one day last week, so the circling mob of reporters moved in for an interview.

"Dick LeBeau should be in the Hall of Fame," Smith said without anyone asking him a question.

Why?

"I just have a lot of respect for the man," Smith said. "What he's done as a player and what he's done as a coach speaks volumes for him. The way he conducts himself and carries himself and treats people, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame."

Ok.

ROSTER MOVE

The Steelers promoted undrafted rookie cornerback Roy Lewis to their roster from the practice squad and released wide receiver Dallas Baker, who had a mixed bag of production last week against the Colts. Baker dropped a pass, then caught a pass, then came within a foot of making the biggest catch in his life, but the Colts instead intercepted the Ben Roethlisberger Hail Mary.

"I keep seeing on ESPN, the top 10 plays, and how close I am," said Baker. "I keep thinking if I could only do it all over again."


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