Guard Doug Legursky practiced for the second consecutive day after missing the last three games with a toe injury.
"It felt great," said Legursky of returning to practice. "Any type of injury, it's hard when you are not out there on the field. I am excited to get back out there and contribute to winning football."
After going through a full workout in pads on Thursday, Legursky said it still felt good.
"It felt pretty good," said Legursky. "It's still a long way until it's 100 percent. As far as the first day where I suited up and put pressure on it…I am satisfied with the first day."
Legursky injured his toe against Jacksonville on Oct. 16, leaving the game in the second quarter.
"The mental side is definitely the hardest part," said Legursky. "The physical part, the pain, throughout your career you learn how to deal with it. The mental side of it, not being out there on the field, not being with the guys, that is the toughest part."
Legursky is hoping to be game-ready this week when the Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the 6-2 Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
"You have to work through it like anything else and keep pushing yourself to get better," said Legursky. "You have to stay focused on what you need to do. At that point it's getting healthy. Hopefully I have done enough where I can step out there this week and be ready to go."
While he wasn't able to play the last few weeks, that didn't keep Legursky from contributing, helping offensive line coach Sean Kugler as an extra set of eyes.
"Those couple of weeks I tried to work as an assistant to him," said Legursky. "I watched film as much as if I was playing. I gave my input. At the end of the day it was them out there playing, I wasn't able to contribute on game day but throughout the week I was able to help them out a little bit."
There was a familiar face on the practice field Thursday with defensive end Al Woods back on the team.
"It feels good to be back, seeing teammates and friends I made the first time I was here," said Woods. "I am just happy to be back."
Woods was on the Steelers practice squad for half of the 2010 season before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to their active roster. Tampa released him earlier this year and Seattle signed him. Seattle released him this week and the Steelers were able to claim him off of waivers.
"It feels great," added Woods. "It's a great organization here. I didn't want to leave in the first place, but I am just happy to be back."
Woods is getting a crash course this week, but at least has a grasp on the defense from his first go-around with the team.
"It's coming back," said Woods. "The stuff I learned in the time I was here, it's coming back pretty well. Coach (John) Mitchell has helped me out pretty good. I hope I can get it going in practice."
His goal is to be ready to play this Sunday if he is needed.
"I am going to get in the playbook tonight, sleep with it, eat breakfast with it in the morning, get ready for tomorrow and try to improve every day," said Woods.
With two losses in their division the Steelers know this week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals is key.
"This is a big week. We have no time to rest," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "We can't drop two in a row. Going down there they are going to be fired up. It's going to be a great game."
The Steelers, 6-3, don't want to drop another division game as they battle to stay in the hunt for the division.
"We don't have a choice," said cornerback Ike Taylor. "We could have put ourselves in a position if we would have won Sunday and now we are on the outside looking in. It's going to come down to the wire. We know it's going to be that type of ball game."
Only four players did not practice on Thursday, including WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), S Troy Polamalu (rib), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee), and LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring). Linebacker James Harrison was limited with what was listed as a toe injury. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester returned for a full practice.