The Steelers prepare for the Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.
Cornerback Joe Haden is unofficially back, and he couldn't be happier.
"Coming back with two games left in the regular season, knowing we have the postseason coming, I'm just trying to get back in football shape," Haden said after practice today. "I'm just excited to be back out there, making plays."
Since the Steelers' next game isn't until Christmas day (Monday) at Houston, there was no status report issued following today's practice.
But Haden declared himself approximately 85-percent recovered from the fractured fibula he sustained on Nov. 12 at Indianapolis and said he was "feeling a lot better" than he had been leading up to last Sunday's game against New England.
Haden also declared the Steelers postseason ready.
"I love our chances," he said. "Really, really excited just to have an opportunity, going into every game with this offense and with our defense. Our talent level is just up there with everybody. I don't feel like anybody can out-talent us.
"I like our chances versus anyone."
Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert was as giddy as Haden upon return to the field following a four-game suspension.
"It's like the first day of school all over again," Gilbert said. "You get to hear a lot of laughs, a lot of guys excited to have me back.
"I'm just excited to be back myself."
Gilbert acknowledged the need to "get on a moving train," but he knows where that train might eventually be headed.
"I truly believe there's no better team that's stacked from top to bottom than us," Gilbert said.
Gilbert missed five games and parts of two others with a hamstring injury prior to being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Tight end Vance McDonald missed Sunday's game against New England with a shoulder injury sustained on Dec. 10 against Baltimore.
MvDonald had previously missed three games (Nov. 16 against Tennessee, Nov. 26 against Green Bay and Dec. 4 at Cincinnati) with an ankle injury.
He was also inactive on Oct. 29 at Detroit after a knee injury had knocked him out on Oct. 22 against Cincinnati.
Looking ahead to the Texans, McDonald said recent inactivity "won't be an issue."
McDonald also looked forward to his first trip to the playoffs since 2013 with San Francisco.
"You always want to be playing your best football going into it," McDonald said. "I think we're capable of doing that."