PITTSBURGH - Neither Max Starks nor Isaac Redman knew how their healed injuries would react when the players returned to full practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.
Starks' surgically-repaired knee and Redman's balky hip came through three days of practice just fine, and now both players are anxious to get into a game.
Left tackle Starks and running back Redman both expect to see significant action when the Steelers (No. 7 in AP Pro32) play at Buffalo in an exhibition game Saturday.
Starks came off the PUP list on Aug. 14, and began practicing Tuesday. He will start, and coach Mike Tomlin said the starters will play "at least a half."
"My knee held up pretty well considering it did pretty much everything it was supposed to do [in a] normal week," Starks said. He tore the ACL in his right knee in a playoff loss at Denver Jan. 8.
Redman, who missed Sunday's game against Indianapolis, said he is eager to play as much as possible. He has been bothered throughout much of training camp by a painful hip injury that first was thought to be his groin until an MRI last week showed otherwise.
Steelers fire an assistant
PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers fired special teams coordinator Al Everest on Thursday and replaced him with former assistant special teams coach Amos Jones.
Everest, who held his position since 2010, presided over units that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in kick return, punt return and net punting average yardage last season.
Everest was about to enter his 16th season as an NFL special teams coach.
"We are continually evaluating our coaching staff and support staff, and we have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our special teams," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "I want to thank Al for his contributions and efforts, and I wish him well in the future."
Jones was on Tomlin's original staff in 2007, first as an assistant to special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky before staying on to work under Everest for the Steelers.
- The Associated Press
Redman's status merely for practice had been up in the air as recently as Sunday. But three pain-free workouts have the man who likely will start the season opener at tailback feeling dramatically better than he did a week ago.
"Actually, I thought I'd be a little sore this week form practicing," Redman said. "I wasn't sure how my body would react, but I don't feel anything [painful] right now. I kind of feel like I never really injured it."
Redman is part of a running back corps that has had its share of injuries. Rashard Mendenhall tore the ACL in his right knee during the regular season finale at Cleveland Jan. 1. That gave the starting job - at least temporarily - to Redman.
But Mendenhall was taken off the physically unable to perform list a week ago. He has been practicing on a limited basis but will not travel to Buffalo.
Others who will not play against the Bills due to injury are linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds (both on the PUP list), linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and running back Jason Ford.
Tomlin said nose tackle Casey Hampton also won't play. Hampton is recovering from a torn ACL but his primary concern is a left elbow injury.
Starks was signed days before training camp began, and after the Steelers were satisfied his rehab was progressing well. Second-round pick Mike Adams was given an opportunity at left tackle job but has struggled in two exhibition games.
That left Starks to reclaim a starting tackle job he's owned with the Steelers when healthy since his second season in 2005.
"Everyone's happy to see Max back out there," Mendenhall said. "And he looks like he's exactly where he was, so that's good."
Even as a nine-year veteran, Starks said he wanted to play in some exhibition games so he can become more comfortable with the Steelers' new offense. Todd Haley replaced Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator over the offseason.
Like many other teams, the Steelers treat their third preseason game as something of a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
"Having this week, being able to get ready for this game - it's a mock prep week, so it kind of helped me get into the mind-set and get back into it," Starks said. "I've felt pretty good."
Notes: Tomlin said the starters could play into the third quarter, based on how the game is playing out. ... Tomlin said he doesn't plan on playing fourth-string QB Jerrod Johnson against the Bills. QBs Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch will each play in some capacity after starter Ben Roethlisberger leaves the game. ... Mendenhall gave an encouraging update on his status, saying he is cutting and increasing the intensity of his workouts.