Call it addition by omission.
As Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin rattled off the status of injured players on Tuesday, three names were noticeably absent: Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu.
It wasn’t an oversight by Tomlin. It’s just that he doesn’t think three of his team’s most vital contributors are hurt anymore. Barring a setback, Tomlin expects all three to be in uniform on Sunday when the Steelers (1-2) host Philadelphia (3-1).
“I think that’s a safe assessment,” Tomlin said.
The unusually emphatic endorsement by the typically cautious Tomlin is perhaps the closest thing to a sure thing for the Steelers, who are looking to avoid their first ever 1-3 start since Tomlin took over in 2007. Under Tomlin, the Steelers have started every season 6-2. They already have the “2” down this season. Ripping off the next five to keep that streak alive will be daunting.
Having a couple of former Defensive Players of the Year back won’t hurt. Harrison, who starred at Coventry High School and Kent State University, hasn’t played at all this season while nursing a lingering left knee problem. Polamalu missed the last two games with a strained right calf while Mendenhall is at the very end of a lengthy rehab after tearing the ACL in his right knee on New Year’s Day.
“When we have those guys, we’ll appreciate it,” Tomlin said. “When we don’t have them, we’ll remain steadfast in our goals and our objectives.”
Raiders receiver at practice
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was back at practice for the first time since being hospitalized by a helmet-to-helmet hit as the Oakland Raiders worked on fixing their problems during the bye week.
Heyward-Bey took part in individual drills Tuesday as the Raiders (1-3) held their first of two practices this week before getting four days off for the bye.
Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious on Sept. 23 by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone from Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy. Heyward-Bey appeared to be knocked out by the hit and then crashed to the turf headfirst and his neck twisted awkwardly.
He was taken to the hospital for a concussion and sprained neck.
Dolphins sign Gaffney
Receiver Jabar Gaffney signed with the Miami Dolphins, who terminated the contract of receiver Legedu Naanee.
Gaffney, 31, had the best season of his career last year with Washington, then signed with the New England Patriots and was released at the end of training camp.
He tried out a month ago with the Dolphins, who have been plagued by poor depth at the receiver spot.
Gaffney, who is in his 11th season, had 68 catches for 947 yards and five scores last year. He scored 27 touchdowns in two years at the University of Florida.
Naanee made only one catch this season.
The Dolphins also terminated the contract of defensive lineman Andre Fluellen. The Dolphins waived-injured linebacker Mike Rivera.
Around the league
The New York Jets signed fullback Lex Hilliard and waived wide receiver Patrick Turner. Hilliard was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008. Hilliard rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in 48 NFL games. New York also signed wide receiver Jordan White to the practice squad and released cornerback Donnie Fletcher from the practice squad. … The Buffalo Bills shuffled their practice squad by signing defensive back Mana Silva and offensive lineman Andrew Jackson and released tight end LaMark Brown and defensive back Isaiah Green. … The Indianapolis Colts signed linebacker Mario Addison to the practice squad.