Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend said he'll "most definitely" play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. And linebacker Clark Haggans said he'd be "happy" to play.
Both were upgraded on the injury report following Thursday's practice on the South Side. Townsend went from doubtful to questionable with a groin injury, while Haggans went from being out (according to the original report) to doubtful.
Also, cornerback Ricardo Colclough (shoulder) jumped from doubtful (25 percent chance of playing) to questionable (50-50), guard Alan Faneca (toe) went from questionable to probable (75 percent chance) and defensive end Aaron Smith (back) jumped from questionable to probable, as well.
Wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring) remained questionable, though he practiced some for the first time in more than week. Wideout Cedrick Wilson (wrist, questionable) also practiced, while wideout Antwaan Randle El (foot, questionable) could return today.
Cornerback Willie Williams, who aggravated a groin in practice Wednesday, missed yesterday's workout and is questionable, while tight end Jerame Tuman missed with the flu. He is probable.
As for Haggans, he had surgery on his groin Sept. 28, but appears to be making a speedy recovery. He's been running the past two weeks and went through his first full workout yesterday.
"They wanted to gauge where I was with my pads on," said Haggans, who's missed the past two games after injuring his groin in the waning moments of a 23-20 loss to New England on Sept. 25. "I feel I did a pretty good job today."
Haggans, who had 10 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles vs. the Patriots, said he's pain-free and could play Sunday if needed. James Harrison has capably filled in for him the past two weeks, registering 13 tackles, a sack and an interception.
"I healed up well. They say some people heal faster than expected sometimes," said Haggans, who was expected to miss four games. "I spoke with the doctor in Philadelphia who did the surgery and he said, 'Do what you can.' He basically released me to go and practice and do what I can out on the field, as long as I'm pain-free. And it's been pain-free this whole week, and the latter part of last week. So, I'm just trying to heal up and get better every day, day in and day out."
Haggans is not the only Steelers player to make drastic improvements in recent days. On Tuesday, coach Bill Cowher said it didn't look like Townsend was going to play, but the latter moved well at practice and expects to play, even if he doesn't start.
"I felt fine (Wednesday)," Townsend said. "I actually told (trainer John) Norwig, 'Don't count me out.' I felt like I was ready to play."
Townsend is a marked man in the eyes of Bengals star receiver Chad Johnson, who has Townsend's name on a checklist of cornerbacks he plans to beat this season. A day earlier, Johnson was disappointed to hear Townsend might not play.
"I'll be out there," Townsend said.
Asked if Johnson is on his checklist, Townsend grinned.
"No, but I have some Pepto," he said, referring to the Pepto Bismol Johnson sent to the Cleveland Brown prior to a game last season, signaling he planned to make the Browns sick.
Townsend re-iterated that fellow starting corner Ike Taylor will shadow Johnson on Sunday.
"Ike will be ready," he said.