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Pittsburgh Steelers Welcome New Faces and Starters to the Practice Field

By: Dan Benton (Sports Media 101)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have received some bad news in recent weeks and are definitely a team that could use a change in that department. Wednesday, the team may have finally got some as rookie first round selection guard David DeCastro returned to the practice field.Yes, the rookie missed 10-games with a torn MCL in his right knee and will miss some more, but possibly, it is a sign that some things may return to normal at some point. For DeCastro, this is the first step in determining whether the team will activate him from injured reserve and allow him to get some snaps in during what was originally expected to be a lost rookie season. That decision has not been made as the team has three weeks to decide whether to add him to the 53-man roster.

Wednesday, also marked the first time in 2012 that the Steelers saw quarterback Charlie Batch take snaps as the starter, as he prepares in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. The veteran has a 5-2 record as a starter for the Steelers and will be called upon to be not only an above-the-line starter, but also a healthy one as the team takes on the Cleveland Brown. With newly signed back-up Brian Hoyer just in the fold, it will be virtually impossible for him to be up to speed with the playbook in less than a week. Yet, as a career back up, he has the demeanor to pick up at least enough to be serviceable if called upon.

Unlike Hoyer, who will not see the field unless there is an injury, newly signed wide receiver Plaxico Burress will see some action against the Browns, especially in the Red Zone, where his size will give the team a second option besides tight end Heath Miller. In his first practice with the team, he look comfortable and in very good shape, and should be able to cause match-up problems for defenses.

In other injury news, there was a mixed bag, as quarterbacks Roethlisberger (Should/Ribs) and Leftwich (Ribs/Shoulder), wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (Ribs),  safety Troy Polamalu (Calf), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (Foot) and defensive end Ziggy Hood (Back) did not practice.  Of those, there was hope that Hood would be available for Sundays divisional match-up.  Wide receiver Antonio Brown (Ankle) did return to practice, along with DeCastro in a limited basis.

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