McFadden anxious to play

The preseason has been an exercise in futility for cornerback Bryant McFadden, who hasn't played in the first two games because of a hamstring injury.

"It's been very frustrating," said McFadden. "Game day I love. I love the opportunity to compete and go out and get a chance to play some good football. It's been tough, but it's something I can't control. It's the nature of the game. I need to be battle tested and focused and do what they tell me to do."

McFadden is hoping to be back on the field this week when the Steelers play the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on Saturday night.

"I am planning on it," said McFadden. "I am excited. I just want to put on a uniform and go out there in front of the fans and play football. I am anxious. It's almost like waiting for Christmas."

The Steelers game against the Falcons will be a final tune-up for the starters with them seeing their most extensive playing time of the preseason.

It also could be a final audition for a roster spot for other players, as the first set of roster cuts come after the game.

Wide receiver Hines Ward knows it's an important game for some young players, but hopes that they don't become obsessed with it.

"Don't start counting numbers," Ward said of what he tells those guys. "A lot of young guys start counting numbers and say he made it, he made it. A lot can happen. Just because you got drafted doesn't mean you made the team. I have been here long enough to know it."

Ward came into the NFL as a third-round draft pick, but still had to battle early on and prove himself using every avenue possible.

"A lot of it comes down to special teams. That is why I made it when I got here," said Ward. "I try to speak from experience. I wasn't a high draft pick. I had to work my way up through the ranks. Whenever I got my opportunity I never looked back."

Safety Ryan Clark also added that if you want to make an impact this week, or in the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, then you have to go full tilt.

"Just keep playing and enjoy," said Clark. "You just have to play, soak up every moment and take advantage of every moment. If you have the opportunity to run down on special teams, do it 100 percent. I tell the DBs all the time you hit whatever is moving. If something is moving in front of you in a different color you have to hit it.

"It's tough. This week is tough because those guys don't get to play much. If you make it through this game and are allowed to play next week you get all of the reps. You have to take it for what it's worth each and every play."

One area that is going to get a good look this week is the offensive line, particularly right guard, as the Steelers are trying to solidify their starting five for opening day against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11.

"We just have to get our line together to see who is going to be the starting five," said tackle Willie Colon. "Saturday will be a good decision maker to see where we are. I am looking forward to it.

"I think it's important to get our five, the five we are going with to start the season with to build our chemistry, and get our verbiage together. Having that solid five out there is going to be important for us starting the season."

Last week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles and this week's Atlanta game are two big tests for the Steelers secondary and entire defense, something that is welcomed by the starters who see their most extensive playing time in those two games.

"I said at the beginning of the preseason the way the schedule is set up with the weeks we are playing the most week two and three, it couldn't have been set up better for us, offensively and defensively," said Clark. "You talk about two teams who are going to be in the hunt in the NFC playoffs, two very good teams offensively. For us it's a very good challenge. They have very good receivers, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. It's a very good week for us to play a lot of snaps."

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