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Steelers’ homestand likely to shape season
PITTSBURGH — One of the reasons the Steelers won the AFC North last season was their record within the division. They were 4-2 with a series sweep of the Bengals.
The Steelers have a chance to make up some ground on their division foes during their three-game homestand at Heinz Field. In addition to the Bengals visiting on Sunday, the Steelers also play the Browns on Nov. 15. Then in the final month of the season the Steelers have to play at Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland.
It’s the first time since the NFL went to its current divisional setup in 2002 that the Steelers will play all three of their AFC North foes at home before facing any of them on the road. The Steelers are 0-1 against AFC North foes this season with a home loss to the Ravens.
–Linebackers James Harrison and Chris Carter will be competing against their former teams in this game. Harrison has spent 12 of his 13 seasons with the Steelers, but the one season he spent away from Pittsburgh was in Cincinnati with the Bengals in 2013.
Carter plays for the Bengals now, but he spent three seasons with the Steelers from 2011-13. Carter, the Steelers’ fifth-round draft choice in ’11, was picked up by the Bengals last season after he was cut by the Colts. Carter has dressed for all six games this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 150 – The number of receptions for running back Le’Veon Bell in 33 career games. Bell is already fifth in franchise history in receptions for a running back and needs 157 more to own the record for most receptions by a back in team history. Franco Harris holds the record with 306. Harris needed 12 seasons to do it.
–Wide receiver Antonio Brown hasn’t done much with his punt return opportunities this season – he’s 15th in the league averaging 8.9 yards per return – but history suggests he could do something on Sunday against the Bengals.
Brown has three career punt returns for touchdowns, and all three of them have come against the Bengals. He had a 67-yard punt return against the Bengals in 2013, a 71-yarder against the Bengals last season and a 60-yarder in 2011. All three came at Heinz Field.
INJURY NOTES: LB Terence Garvin had minor knee surgery to repair damage to an MCL and will miss “a couple of weeks,” according to coach Mike Tomlin. Garvin was injured in practice on Friday and could not play in the Kansas City game. … CB William Gay, who suffered a shoulder contusion late in the game at Kansas City on Sunday, did not practice on Wednesday, but he said he expects to practice on Thursday. “It feels fine,” Gay said. “I think I take every Wednesday off during the week. He gives me the old man day off so I take it. I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow.” … DE Stephon Tuitt, who missed the Kansas City game with a sprained knee, did not practice on Wednesday.