NFL

Reed catching heat from fans over early missed field goals

FOX Sports Scott Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune Review
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Jeff Reed is one of the most visible Steelers when it comes to sporting events in Pittsburgh.

The veteran kicker experienced the downside of that Wednesday when he said he "caught some heat" from fans at the Penguins game he attended with his sister.

Reed already has missed four field goals this season, including two in the Steelers' 17-14 loss to the Ravens on Oct. 3. On two of those misses, however, Reed's kicks hit an upright.

The only kick, Reed said, he didn't hit the way he wanted to was the 45-yarder that he pulled against the Ravens.

"I've missed kicks before, and I've come back strong," Reed said. "I know how to do this job, or I wouldn't be here."

Reed said his early misses have nothing to do with the unhappiness he voiced over his contract situation during training camp.

Reed said at the time that the Steelers didn't negotiate with him in good faith on a long-term deal.

"Everyone's thinking that I'm sandbagging, but that's not the case at all," said Reed, who signed a one-year, $2.81 million contract in July. "There's one thing I can't stand and that's not being perfect and losing."

Sanders snags playing time

Emmanuel Sanders will serve as the Steelers' No. 4 wide receiver and primary kickoff returner Sunday against the visiting Browns.

Sanders and fellow rookie Antonio Brown have been battling for that role on a weekly basis. Sanders has the upper hand for now, as Brown, barring injury, won't dress Sunday.

The Browns game will be Sanders' first since the season opener Sept. 12. The third-round draft pick has battled quadriceps injuries in both legs but said Thursday that he's as healthy as he has been all season.

"The Atlanta game, I probably played at 80 percent, so I'm really excited to play in this upcoming game at 100 percent," Sanders said.

Steelers expect Wildcat

Browns quarterbacks Seneca Wallace (ankle) and Jake Delhomme (ankle) didn't practice again yesterday, making it likely that rookie Colt McCoy will start Sunday.

The Steelers still are preparing as if they will see plenty of Josh Cribbs at quarterback in the 1 p.m. game.

Running the Browns' Wildcat package last December, Cribbs rushed for 87 yards on eight carries in Cleveland's 13-6 upset of the Steelers.

"The way that they beat us was not by their quarterback," strong safety Troy Polamalu said. "It was by Josh Cribbs. I don't imagine their game plan changes much."

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, the Steelers' No. 4 quarterback, has been emulating Cribbs this week in practice.

Injury updates

Trai Essex (ankle) again practiced on a limited basis yesterday, meaning Doug Legursky will make a third consecutive start at right guard for the Steelers.

Essex's is the only injury of note for the Steelers.

For the Browns, in addition to Wallace and Delhomme, running back Peyton Hillis (thigh), center Alex Mack (shoulder), defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (elbow), defensive end Robaire Smith (back), offensive tackle John St. Clair (ankle) and guard Floyd Womack (knee) have yet to practice this week because of injuries.

Tagged: Browns, Steelers, Antwaan Randle El, Jeff Reed, Trai Essex, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders

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