PITTSBURGH – Plaxico Burress is back where he once belonged.
The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back the veteran wide receiver on Tuesday to provide depth at a position decimated by injuries while hoping there’s enough gas left in the 35-year-old’s tank to give the offense an added dimension near the goal line.
Burress impressed Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert during a brief workout early Tuesday even though he hasn’t played since the end of the 2011 season as a member of the New York Jets.
“He’s in really good physical condition based on the workout I just saw,” Tomlin said. “He’s got very good body control for a big man. He can drop his weight at break points and obviously he’s no stranger to football.”
The Steelers (6-4) are in need of healthy bodies at wide receiver after Jerricho Cotchery fractured his ribs late in Sunday night’s 13-10 loss to Baltimore. Antonio Brown has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury and Tomlin listed Brown as questionable for Sunday’s game against Cleveland (2-8).
The 6-foot-5 Burress spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, who selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft. He moved on to the New York Giants in 2005 and caught the winning touchdown pass in the 2008 Super Bowl before his career derailed after accidentally shooting himself in a New York nightclub, leading to a gun charge that resulted in a 20-month prison sentence.
Pittsburgh courted Burress when he returned to the league last summer, though Burress opted for a more lucrative $3 million offer from the New York Jets. Though he lacked the explosion that made him one of the better deep threats in the league during his prime, Burress caught 45 passes for 612 yards and tied for the team lead with eight touchdown receptions.
The Jets opted not to bring him back, however, and Burress has spent most of the last year looking for a job.
• Charlie Batch will start at quarterback Sunday at Cleveland.
Batch is 5-2 while subbing for Ben Roethlisberger through the years. Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich are both out indefinitely with rib injuries. Batch passed for 208 yards in a 27-0 victory over St. Louis last December.
RAVENS: Safety Ed Reed avoided a one-game suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined $50,000.
Reed was suspended for one game without pay Monday by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players. The third violation occurred in Sunday night’s game at Pittsburgh: Reed’s hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Reed appealed the ruling in a phone session Tuesday morning with NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell. The NFL Players Association represented Reed, who also participated.
Hours later, Cottrell reduced the penalty.
In a letter to Reed, Cottrell wrote: “I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league’s primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules.”
Reed will play in Sunday’s game at San Diego.
PANTHERS: Carolina waived kicker Justin Medlock and replaced him with Graham Gano.
RAIDERS: Oakland waived linebacker Aaron Curry two weeks after activating him to the 53-man roster.
SEAHAWKS: Rookie safety Winston Guy was suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
JETS: New York waived wide receiver Jason Hill and linebacker Marcus Dowtin, clearing roster space two days before its showdown with the New England Patriots.
JAGUARS: Jacksonville signed receiver Jordan Shipley and waived fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the Jaguars needed a sixth receiver, but Laurent Robinson has missed several games because of concussions and appeared to slam his head on the ground late in Sunday’s loss at Houston.
REDSKINS: Washington placed safety Brandon Meriweather on injured reserve and signed cornerback Jerome Murphy.
BEARS: Quarterback Jay Cutler isn’t sure if he’ll play Sunday against Minnesota after missing Monday’s loss at San Francisco because of a concussion.