PITTSBURGH — Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo will return to the field Sunday against the Steelers after missing two games with a knee injury, and running back Kevin Faulk will make his season debut after a 13-month recovery from a torn ACL.
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer is in the lineup after missing four consecutive games with a back injury, and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick will also make his 2011 debut after starting the season on the physically unable to perform list. Safety Sergio Brown is back in the lineup after missing a game with a chest injury.
However, linebacker Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver Julian Edelman will not play Sunday, and neither player was listed on the team's injury report, which makes them healthy scratches for the first time this season. It's the first time Cunningham has been a healthy scratch in his NFL career.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett (not on injury report), safety Josh Barrett (thumb), running back Shane Vereen (not on injury report), Dane Fletcher (thumb) and offensive lineman Donald Thomas (not on injury report) are also inactive against the Steelers. This is the first game Fletcher and Thomas have missed this season.
Mallett is out for the sixth time and the fourth consecutive game. Barrett is out for the third straight week. Edelman is out for the third consecutive game, but he was listed with an ankle injury during the past two weeks. Vereen is out for the third time this season. Cunningham, who had a groin injury in Week 1, is out for the second game this season.