Plaxico Burress is back where he once belonged.
The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back the veteran wide receiver Tuesday to provide depth at a position decimated by injuries while hoping there’s enough gas left in the 35-year-old’s tank to give the offense an added dimension near the goal line.
Burress impressed Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert during a brief workout early Tuesday even though he hasn’t played since the end of the 2011 season as a member of the New York Jets.
‘‘He’s in really good physical condition based on the workout I just saw,’’ Tomlin said.
The Steelers also moved to fill a hole at quarterback after backup Byron Leftwich left Sunday’s loss to the Ravens with fractured ribs. Veteran backup Charlie Batch will start Sunday at Cleveland while former Patriot backup Brian Hoyer was signed to back up Batch. Hoyer was released by the Patriots at the end of training camp after backing up Tom Brady for three seasons.
The Steelers are in need of healthy bodies at wide receiver after Jerricho Cotchery fractured his ribs against the Ravens. Antonio Brown has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Cleveland.
Burress spent his first five seasons with the Steelers. He moved on to the Giants in 2005 and caught the winning touchdown pass in the 2008 Super Bowl against the Patriots before his career derailed after accidentally shooting himself in a New York nightclub, leading to a gun charge that resulted in a 20-month prison sentence.
Burress joins a team trying to keep its playoff chances afloat without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is nursing a sprained right shoulder and a dislocated rib.
Enter Batch. The seemingly ageless 37-year-old will fill in again on Sunday. Batch is 5-2 while subbing for Roethlisberger over the last decade, including a tidy 208-yard performance in a 27-0 victory over St. Louis last December.
Reed wins appealRavens safety Ed Reed avoided a one-game suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined $50,000. Reed was suspended for one game without pay Monday by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players. The third violation occurred in Sunday night’s game at Pittsburgh: Reed’s hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Reed appealed the ruling and NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell reduced the penalty. . . . The Jets waived wide receiver Jason Hill and linebacker Marcus Dowtin, clearing roster space two days before their showdown with the Patriots. The Jets did not immediately announce any corresponding transactions and have three spots they could fill before Thursday’s game.
The Bears said quarterback Jay Cutler, who sat out Monday night’s 32-7 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, may return as soon as Sunday against the Vikings. Cutler missed his second game in three seasons Monday because of a concussion. He has yet to be cleared to return to practice after being knocked out of a loss on Nov. 11 to the Texans but coach Lovie Smith was optimistic Cutler could be returning soon. “He got better as time went along,’’ Smith said. “He was feeling a lot better at the end of the week so it’s looking good.” . . . 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had a follow-up evaluation with doctors after having a minor procedure last week for an irregular heartbeat . . . The Dolphins waived former Patriot receiver Jabar Gaffney and were awarded tight end Kyle Miller off waivers . . . Seahawks rookie safety Winston Guy was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances . . . The Raiders waived linebacker Aaron Curry two weeks after activating him to the 53-man roster . . . The Panthers waived kicker Justin Medlock, who had missed his last three field goal attempts, and replaced him with Graham Gano . . . The Jaguars signed receiver Jordan Shipley and waived fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou.