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NFL notebook: Steelers welcome DBs, OT for pre-draft visit

| Monday, April 8, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

The Steelers brought in three more players for visits Monday, including defensive backs Shamarko Thomas of Syracuse and Will Davis of Utah State.

Offensive tackle Nik Embernate also visited the Steelers' South Side offices as the team continued to bring in potential draft picks for personal visits.

The Steelers have brought in 15 players to Pittsburgh, or half as many as they are allowed to invite in advance of the April 25-27 NFL Draft.

Thomas (5-foot-9, 213 pounds) is one of the better prospects the Steelers have brought in to date. He considered declaring for the draft as a junior a year ago, but chose to return to Syracuse for his senior season. He performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and is projected to go in the second or third round.

The Steelers are looking for safety help now that Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are both in their 30s, and Polamalu is coming off a season in which he missed nine consecutive games with a torn calf.

Davis (5-11, 186) is seen as mid-round pick, while the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Embernate ranks in the upper quarter of all available guards.

Concussion lawsuit

With perhaps billions of dollars at stake, a hearing Tuesday over concussion litigation filed against the NFL promises to be a contest between legal lions.

About 4,200 former players have sued the league. Some suffer from dementia, depression, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological problems. Others simply want their health monitored.

And a small number, including Ray Easterling and 12-time Pro Bowler Junior Seau, committed suicide after long downward spirals.

The players' lawyers accuse the NFL of promoting violence in the game and concealing known cognitive risks from concussions and other blows to the head. They hope to keep the litigation in federal court so they can use the discovery process to access NFL files — and see what the league knew when.

Settlement approved

The $50 million settlement between the NFL and a group of retired players over publicity rights was given preliminary approval Monday by a federal judge who likened some of the retirees to petulant children for complaining about the money now that it has been awarded.

The settlement of the class-action lawsuit was reached last month, but some of the plaintiffs opposed the agreement, arguing it's not good enough. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said in his order that the contentious nature of the case and the complexity and expense of further litigation “weigh heavily in favor” of final approval of the settlement, which could take place this summer.

Kolb officially joins Bills

Having already squandered two chances to prove himself as an NFL starter, quarterback Kevin Kolb arrived in Buffalo on Monday eager for a third opportunity.

“This is a big chance for me,” Kolb said, shortly after officially signing a two-year contract potentially worth more than w$12 million. He agreed to the deal March 30. “That's why I came here. And I'm excited about getting out there and doing some special things.”

Kolb's NFL career has been clouded by inconsistency. With a 9-12 record as a starter, he's completed 59.5 percent of his passes, while throwing 28 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in 34 games.

Flacco to play Unitas

Joe Flacco as Johnny Unitas.

The Ravens' quarterback said he'll play the part of Baltimore's greatest quarterback, former Colts star Johnny Unitas, in an upcoming movie entitled “Unitas We Stand.”

The movie is being co-produced by Joe Unitas, the late quarterback's son.

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