Ward, Polamalu and Holmes returning vs. Broncos

Updated: October 17, 2007, 9:13 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers' off week allowed three of the four injured starters who sat out their 21-0 victory over Seattle on Oct. 7 to heal.

Santonio Holmes


Troy Polamalu


Hines Ward


Wide receivers Hines Ward (sprained knee) and Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and safety Troy Polamalu (rib cartilage) not only are expected to play against Denver on Sunday night, but likely will practice all week. Ward would return after missing two games.

Nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) will take it easy in practice Wednesday, but Tomlin is hopeful he will play. Backup cornerback Bryant McFadden (sprained ankle) probably won't go.

Polamalu and Holmes have improved to the point where they probably won't be listed among the injured, Tomlin said. Of course, Polamalu and Hampton weren't on Tomlin's initial injury list two weeks ago and neither played against Seattle.

Ward will be welcomed back by running back Willie Parker as much as he will be by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Ward's downfield blocking is a key to the Steelers' running game, and Parker had his only game with fewer than 100 yards rushing when Ward was out.

"Hines Ward is going to be fine," Coach Mike Tomlin said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's going to practice tomorrow. All tests to this point have been very positive. I know he's excited about being back in there, as are we to have him back in there."

The Broncos haven't shut down the run all season, allowing an average of 187.6 rushing yards. Besides Denver, only the Dolphins are allowing more than 149.5 yards per game. Denver has been outscored 102-37 in its last three games.

"Teams have run the ball on them some, but they've also turned the ball over," Tomlin said, referring to Denver's 11 giveaways. "They have three returns for them on touchdowns this year. It is tough to win football games when that happens."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.