The Steelers got some good news on the injury front on Monday following their bye week, not only with linebacker Jarvis Jones being activated from the injured reserve/designated to return list, but also cornerback Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier, Troy Polamalu and Shamarko Thomas were back on the practice field.
Taylor has been out since fracturing his right forearm against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 21 and for a guy who is used to playing, it hasn't been an easy stretch for him.
"It felt good to be back," said Taylor. "I was out there talking smack, having fun with the guys. There isn't anything like it. I am just glad to be out there. I was talking to the secondary before we broke it down and I was dang near in tears talking to them before practice. That is how much I care.
"It's been killing me. When I got hurt I was like, dang, this stinks. There is only so much cheerleading I can do. You don't even know how hard it has been. You don't even know. You just don't even know."
The last few weeks Taylor has been a limited participant in practice, but this was the first day he actually participated fully and the sweat dripping off of him felt great.
"I can't wait to play," said Taylor. "The young guys have been playing good ball, but I can't wait. I know they will get every bit of me. My team will have every bit of me out there on the field. I have missed it."
Shazier has been up and down with injuries this season, missing weeks four-seven with a knee injury but more recently missing the last two games with an ankle injury suffered against Baltimore at Heinz Field. While he said he has to wait for word from the athletic trainers and doctors for his status this week, he was glad to be back to work.
"It felt great just going out there and being able to practice today," said Shazier. "It felt good just to be out there. The bye week helped us out a lot. We are getting a lot of guys back. We still have days left so we will see how everybody feels. It's great when you have the whole team back.
"Getting back out there was a blessing. I did more than I expected and that was great. Lately I come in after practice not sweating, today I am tired and sweating and it feels good. It means I have been working."
The bye week apparently was beneficial for Polamalu (knee) and Thomas (hamstring) as well. Polamalu missed the Jets and Titans game and Thomas has missed five of the last six games.
Thomas spent the bye weekend in Pittsburgh, getting treatment, working in the weight room and preparing for his first practice back. He also said he plans on playing this Sunday against the Saints.
"I am going to be out there," said Thomas. "I worked hard over the bye week, stayed here, and got myself ready for this week to play. I am big on doing extra work. It helped me get my legs under me, got me stronger for being back out there today.
"It felt great. There were some long days trying to get back. I am excited to be back out there with my teammates having fun."
The Steelers have a three-week window for Jones to practice before they have to place him on the 53-man roster and he likes the way things started for him on Monday.
"I got a lot of reps today so it felt pretty good," said Jones. "I'll see how I feel Wednesday when we get into pads. Hopefully I will get to see what it really feels like, a little more physical. I feel good.
"I was so nervous today. I felt like my whole body was tensing up. It was a great day. I stayed up all last night. I was ready to get back and play some football. It isn't fun watching from the sidelines knowing you can't help your teammates. You want to be a part of that. You want to be able to hit somebody and make plays. I am glad I am able to get out there today and hopefully I will continue to get better."