Steelers' Steve McLendon practices, hoping to play Sunday

PITTSBURGH – Steve McLendon practiced Wednesday and the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting nose tackle is optimistic he will be able to play Sunday in Cincinnati.

McLendon has missed the last two games – and four games total – because of a nagging shoulder injury. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said McLendon has to regain strength in his injured shoulder before he is cleared to play again.

McLendon said he plans to practice Thursday after taking part in drills Wednesday.

“I felt good at practice,” the fifth-year veteran said. “It felt good to be at practice.”

Also participating fully in the Steelers’ first practice of the week were linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerbacks Cortez Allen (thumb), Brice McCain (hamstring) and Ike Taylor (shoulder).

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and outside linebacker James Harrison (knee) did not practice because of injuries and strong safety Troy Polamalu was out held out drills because of an illness.

Gilbert, who didn’t play in the Steelers’ 35-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, said he got some work in individual drills Wednesday. Gilbert is cautiously optimistic that he will play Sunday even though he said he is also working through a knee injury.

“Tomorrow hopefully there will be some [practice] reps and Friday get more reps and Saturday see where we are,” Gilbert said.

Practice took an interesting turn when newly signed defensive end Clifton Geathers got into a fight with several of the Steelers’ offensive linemen.

”He was probably working his butt off in his mind, but my story is that we just played (90) snaps last game. There is no sense in going that hard in practice,” starting left guard Ramon Foster said. “I saw him push one of our guys to the ground and I lost it.”

Center Maurkice Pouncey and tackle Mike Adams jumped into the fray before the two, as well as Foster, were separated from Geathers.

“Just doing my job,” Geathers said after practice. “It’s all good. We’ve got an understanding; it’s over with.”