Published: Thursday, November 22, 2007
NFL ROUNDUP News and notes
Steelers: Heinz Field is getting a makeover, and a quick one, too. The Steelers will put down a new grass playing field in time for Monday night's game against the Dolphins, but must wait until four Pittsburgh-area high school championship games on Friday and the South Florida-Pitt game on Saturday afternoon are played. With intermittent rain forecast all week, the Steelers were concerned that the pounding their current field will take this weekend might create a poor playing surface on Monday. "Our goal is to do everything in our power to provide the best possible conditions for both teams," Heinz Field director of management Jimmie Sacco said Wednesday in a statement. "After considering the number of high school, college and pro football games being played at Heinz Field in November, combined with the possibility of inclement weather, we believe this is the best way to go." Running back Willie Parker complained of being unable to gain good footing during the Steelers' last home game, a 31-28 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 11. Monday night's game will be the 10th played at Heinz Field this month. Several Browns players, including kicker Phil Dawson, said Heinz Field has the worst surface in the NFL. The new sod will remain in place for the rest of this season. After this weekend, the only games scheduled at Heinz Field are Steelers' home games Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, though they might play multiple playoff games there in January. Currently, Heinz Field has a hybrid surface of mostly natural grass interwoven with plastic fibers known as DD GrassMaster. Sacco said that field will not be torn up. "We will continue to use our regular playing surface in the future, but we feel this option will provide for the most enjoyable game-day experience for both the players and the fans in the final games of the season," Sacco said.
Browns: Rookie cornerback Eric Wright and three other Browns starters missed practice Wednesday with knee injuries. Wright sprained his right knee on his first play in Sunday's overtime win at Baltimore and could miss significant time. He was helped off the field and carted to the locker room for treatment. Wright underwent an MRI exam earlier this week, but Browns coach Romeo Crennel, taking a page from former boss Bill Belichick, was tight-lipped when asked about the player's condition or his chances of playing this week against Houston. "No surgery involved," Crennel said. "We're just going to rehab him and get him back. I don't know how long that might take. We're just going to go day to day with it and see how he does." Earlier this week, Browns play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan reported the team expected Wright to miss four to six weeks. Wright entered the Browns' locker room at the end of the allotted media time with a sleeve on his leg and carrying a portable electrical stimulus machine. If Wright can't play, Daven Holly likely will start in his place.
Vikings: Adrian Peterson was on the field for the first part of Minnesota's practice on Wednesday, participating in light individual drills with his teammates. After working out without pain in his injured right knee the past two days, Peterson took the next step in his recovery from a partially torn lateral collateral ligament. Coach Brad Childress said he considered Peterson upgraded from the "long shot" status he assigned the NFL's leading rusher earlier in the week regarding his readiness to play against the New York Giants. Still, the rookie must have another MRI test before he can be cleared and is unlikely to be in uniform on Sunday. "I don't put any restrictions on him. Nothing surprises me with what that kid does," Childress said, adding: "I am always on the pessimistic side, but I acquiesce to the medical side and that is the next step."
Dolphins: Ricky Williams participated in his first full day of practice Wednesday, his status for Monday's game still unclear. Dolphins coach Cam Cameron isn't saying whether the running back will play at Pittsburgh. Williams took part in agility exercises before he gathered with the team to stretch at the Dolphins' training facility. Cameron and a large group of reporters looked on as Williams and his teammates went through drills. "He definitely had a spring in his step today," rookie quarterback John Beck said. "I don't think I was the only one that noticed that. We're happy to have Ricky on our football team. This is my first time being with him on the team, but I've heard from players on this team, he's a very hard worker and he's going to give us his all." When asked whether Williams would get playing time Monday, Cameron stuck by his wait-and-see approach.
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