Steelers' Pouncey says main focus is football
Center Maurkice Pouncey made it clear Thursday he is focused solely on playing football. The CBA, he said, never consumed him.
"Really, the labor deal is not my problem," Pouncey said. "I was going to be ready to go whenever they got it done."
The 1,900-member NFLPA ratified the agreement minutes after practice began. Pouncey said the agreement is good for the players, the league and fans.
"We've got fans and people who work at the stadium, and they need those jobs," Pouncey said. "We can't let them down. I think all the guys want to play football. They don't want to be locked out again."
» Rookie defensive end Cameron Heyward showed signs of the pass-rushing potential that convinced the Steelers to make the Ohio State product their No.1 pick in the NFL Draft.
But Heyward was hardly impressed. He managed to outmuscle many of the offensive linemen, but clearly he has to adapt to more sophisticated blocking schemes.
"I wasn't satisfied with the way I handle things," he said. "I'm learning something every day, but that's the life of being a rookie."
Defensive end Brett Keisel, a 10-year veteran, expects Heyward to adjust but added it might take time.
"We're probably an eighth of the way through the playbook right now," Keisel said. "It's going slow, and there's a lot to this defense. I don't see the young players picking it up until at least half of the year."
» With the Steelers at full strength for the first time this preseason, defensive tackle Chris Hoke and receiver Hines Ward pumped up a sparse crowd at Chuck Noll Field. Hoke performed his familiar dance and Ward, who remains on the inactive list, served as cheerleader during passing drills.
INSIDE THE ROPES
» The Steelers' offensive line finally started to take shape Thursday. With four lineman forced to sit out until the new season officially started, the unit was a hodge-podge of young and inexperienced players through the first five practices. That changed yesterday with the return of Jonathan Scott, Willie Colon and Doug Legursky. The first unit consisted of Scott, Legursky (for the injured Chris Kemoeatu), Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Colon. Second-year man Chris Scott, a fifth-round pick last year who sat out the entire season with a foot injury, got time with the first team at right guard, also.Before yesterday, the first-team line consisted of only two players with any experience — Pouncey and Foster.
» Nose tackle Chris Hoke was responsible for the biggest cheer of the day, when he did his patented routine before the team stretches. "It was great," Hoke said. "It was like we weren't part of the team, but now we are. It's great to know that we can all work together to get ready for this season." Also practicing for the first time were kicker Shaun Suisham, punter Daniel Sepulveda, quarterback Dennis Dixon, punter Jeremy Kapinos, running back Mewelde Moore, cornerback William Gay, cornerback Ike Taylor, safety Ryan Mundy, long snapper Greg Warren, offensive tackle Tony Hills, tight end John Gilmore along with Scott, Colon and Legursky.
» The Steelers released offensive tackle Josh Harrison, quarterback Chris Dieker, punter Adam Bates and long snapper Derek Chard. Second-year offensive lineman Dorian Brooks, who spent last year on the practice squad, left the team. The Steelers replaced him with Pitt and Franklin Regional graduate John Malecki.
» Tomlin gave safety Troy Polamalu the day off to rest his Achilles that forced him to miss a game a year ago. Also missing practice were cornerback Keenan Lewis (migraine), wide receiver Adam Mims (hamstring), cornerback Cortez Allen (hamstring), cornerback Crezdon Butler (quad), Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), cornerback Bryant McFadden (hamstring) and Kemoeatu (knee).
» Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse attended practice to watch his nephew, undrafted rookie free agent Ty Boyle. Morehouse spent time with Dan Rooney and Kevin Colbert.
Measurables: 5-foot-11, 193 pounds
College: Michigan, first-year free agent
Competition: Warren, who spent last year in the Jets' camp, is battling to get noticed in a very crowded defensive backfield that already has an influx of young talented rookies like Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown and Crezdon Butler. Warren could work his way into a practice squad spot.
Camp moment: With injuries to a host of defensive backs that kept them out of Thursday's practice, Warren ran with the first team defense opposite Ike Taylor and stayed right with Limas Sweed and Tyler Grisham on consecutive plays during 11-on-11 drills.
Quotable: "It was good getting all these reps. I am just trying to pick up the defense and work to get better every day. I am out here competing for a job, and I hope to get noticed by the coaches."