Mike Tomlin had been optimistic at his press conference Tuesday regarding the potential availability of some of the injured players on his team for Sunday's home opener against the Seahawks.
But, as expected, cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder), wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (toe), linebacker T.J. Watt (ankle) and center Maurkice Pouncey (knee) were all at least limited participants Wednesday when the Steelers returned to the practice field to begin preparations for that game. Ben Roethlisberger also was given the day off.
One player who was out there, however, at least on a limited basis, was free safety Sean Davis.
Davis, who missed the Steelers' season-opening 33-3 loss at New England with an ankle injury, practiced for the first time since spraining the ankle in the team's Week 3 preseason win over the Titans and seems to be on track to return to the lineup against the Seahawks.
"I'm feeling better. I finally got to get out there with the guys and move around," said Davis, who confirmed he took scout team reps Wednesday. "So far, so good. No setbacks."
With Davis out, first-year player Kameron Kelly started in his first career game and finished with seven tackles, but was picked on deep by the Patriots, including on a 58-yard touchdown reception by Patriots receiver Phillip Dorsett.
"He's got some work to do, we have got some work to do. All of us," Tomlin said of Kelly.
Getting Davis back would help the Steelers against a Seattle offense that likes to throw the ball deep. Even though the Seahawks only attempted 20 passes in a 21-20 win over the Bengals last Sunday, Russell Wilson completed a 44-yard pass to Tyler Lockett for a touchdown and a 42-yarder to rookie DK Metcalf.
After allowing just seven passing plays of 40 or more yards all of last season with Davis at free safety -- down from 13 in 2017 without Davis there -- the Steelers gave up two last week against the Patriots with Kelly at free safety.
Davis said he could see those plays taking shape on the sideline.
"It's pretty easy, especially when I've got the calls on the sideline," he said. "It was kind of easy seeing where the breakdowns were."
"Kinda-sorta, yeah," Davis said.
That's why it would be beneficial for the Steelers to get him back on the field this week. His experience, even though it amounts to just one full season at free safety, is way more than Kelly's one game there.
Davis is optimistic.
"We took a forward step today. Looking forward to doing a little bit more tomorrow," he said. "I'm better than I was last week, let's put it that way."
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
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