Steelers Notebook: Spaeth may be out for 49ers
TE misses practice for 2nd day in row
Friday, September 21, 2007
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rookie tight end Matt Spaeth, who has two touchdown catches in two games, might have his scoring streak interrupted.
Spaeth (quad contusion) did not practice for the second day in a row and probably won't play against the San Francisco 49ers if he doesn't practice today, said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
"He's made some good progress, but we'll wait and see," Arians said. "If he can't practice [today], for a young guy, it would be hard to play on Sunday."
If Spaeth cannot play, veteran Jerame Tuman will move up to the second tight end against the 49ers. It also means Arians will use a fullback or an extra lineman in certain situations when the Steelers typically use a three-tight end formation.
Spaeth, a third-round draft choice from Minnesota, said he initially bruised his left thigh in the season-opening victory in Cleveland, then took another hit on the same area against the Buffalo Bills.
Spaeth came out of the game, stretched his thigh with the help of trainer John Norwig, and returned to play against the Bills. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the third quarter, his second in as many games.
"You don't feel it as much during the game with all the adrenaline going," Spaeth said. "But, a couple hours after the game you really feel it."
Lawson out for 49ers
The 49ers lost one of their top defensive starters for the season when outside linebacker Manny Lawson's anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee was torn in practice.
Lawson, a No. 1 draft choice in 2006 and one of the keys in their 3-4 defense, was covering tight end Billy Bajema on a pass route in Wednesday's practice when he was injured. Lawson did some light running with the trainer and rode the exercise bike during the final portion of practice, but a magnetic resonance imaging exam later revealed a torn ACL.
Lawson was tied for second on the team with safety Michael Lewis with 14 tackles (8 solo, 6 assists). He also had a half sack and one pass defensed.
"He was kind of the young Adalius Thomas of their defense," Arians said, referring to the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker. "You hate to see that stuff. It won't change what they do. They'll just have a different guy doing it."
Running back Najeh Davenport (hamstring) and guard Kendall Simmons (shoulder) each returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday's session with injuries.
Each is expected to play against the 49ers.
49ers wide receiver Darrell Jackson (back), acquired in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks, did not practice for the second day in a row. Bajema (ankle) and receiver Arnaz Battle (groin) practiced on a limited basis.
Back comes Frazier
Linebacker Andre Frazier was glad to be back in the Steelers' locker room, slightly more than a year after he was released by the team.
The Steelers claimed him off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals, who released him after their 51-45 loss to the Cleveland Browns to make room for linebacker Dhani Jones. The Steelers released linebacker Marquis Cooper to make room for Frazier.
"I'm familiar with all the guys," said Frazier, who originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent before the 2005 season. "Coach [Dick] LeBeau was here then, so there are a lot of things I still remember."
Frazier (6-5, 255) played one season with the Steelers and was with them in training camp last season. He made it to the final cut before he was released in favor of Arnold Harrison, another undrafted free agent.
During the final preseason game last season, Frazier was seen arguing on the sidelines with former coach Bill Cowher. Asked if that led to his release, Frazier said, "I don't know. We spoke face-to-face and he told me it was never like that. I'm taking him at his word, so I doubt it."