Washington on Steeler Nation and Sweed

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- The AFC North blog is spending a couple days with the defending champion Steelers this week in preparation for Thursday’s big season opener against the Tennessee Titans.


On Sunday, we had a chance to talk football with Nate Washington, who said he’s looking forward to returning to Heinz Field later this week. The former Steeler and current Titans receiver said he’s given “a lot of thought” to his return to Pittsburgh, and hopes he gets a good response in return from Steeler Nation.

“I don’t know how they’ll react,” Washington said. “Hopefully they’ll react kind of good. But I’m pretty sure they’re not going to like me being with these guys, anyway, [due to] that situation with the towel last year.

“But either way it goes, I’m excited. I’m very happy to be coming home and playing in Pittsburgh.”

The incident Washington is referring to dates to last season when members of the Titans stomped a mock Terrible Towel following a win over the Steelers. All indications are that Pittsburgh hasn't forgotten.

Washington said he plans to practice Sunday, but his status is up in the air for Thursday's game because of a right hamstring injury. He also offered advice for former teammate and second-year player Limas Sweed, who is filling Washington’s role as the No. 3 receiver in Pittsburgh's offense.

“I think the best advice that I can give him is just to focus,” Washington explained. “There’s going to be a lot of things, a lot of questions about things he can bring to the table now and about his opportunity coming up. The best thing to do is kind of block it all out and play football.

“When you get caught up in those types of things, sometimes your mind wonders when the ball is coming to you. I kind of learned my lesson from that.”