Signs point to the Steelers having all of their starters on defense Sunday when visit they Ravens for the regular-season opener.
Cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor indicated they will play in the 1 p.m. game, barring any setbacks.
McFadden did not play in any preseason games because of the first significant hamstring injury of his career. He said after practice Monday that the cautious approach the Steelers have taken with him has paid off.
"I feel really good now, probably the best I've felt since the injury, especially coming out of practice and doing the same thing the next day," McFadden said.
McFadden has been hampered since the early part of training camp by what he said is a torn hamstring.
Taylor has been practicing on a regular basis, but he has done so wearing a fluorescent green cast on his left arm. The cast protects the thumb Taylor broke in the Steelers' first preseason game on Aug. 12.
Taylor is scheduled to have a pin removed from his thumb today, and when asked if he is playing against the Ravens, the ninth-year veteran smiled coyly.
"That's up to coach (Mike Tomlin)," Taylor said, "but nine times out of nine ..."
Taylor said he has missed only two practices since breaking his thumb. One of the best-conditioned players on the team, Taylor said endurance won't be an issue even though he played only a couple of snaps in the four preseason games because of the injury.
Outside linebacker James Harrison has been working on his stamina following two back surgeries during the offseason.
When asked where he is relative to full strength after practice yesterday, Harrison said, "Closer than I was two weeks ago. I'm not worried about my back, to be honest with you."
Harrison has been taking all manner of steps to get his back ready for the grind of the season, including acupuncture.
Harrison credits acupuncture — sessions can last as long as five hours, he said — with helping him get through last season and preparing for this one. "I'm ready to go," Harrison said, "so I'll take the punches as they come and roll with them."