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Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, Keisel elected captains

| Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, 5:36 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back to practice at St. Vincent College Aug. 8, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

• The Steelers will have two captains — the fewest they have had since at least 1997. Ben Roethlisberger was voted by his teammates as an offensive captain for the fourth time, and Brett Keisel was chosen as a defensive captain for the first time. Longtime captains James Farrior and Hines Ward retired. There is no special teams captain. The Steelers had four captains last season and have had as many as six multiple times.

• Running back Rashard Mendenhall said he took regular reps with the starters Monday, a surprising development considering he wasn't expected to return until at least a few weeks into the season. Mendenhall, recovering from a major right knee injury, hasn't ruled out playing in Denver, though that would appear to be a long shot.

• Outside linebacker James Harrison also practiced Monday, but he isn't speculating whether he can play in Denver. Chris Carter will replace him if Harrison can't go. Harrison has been optimistic he might be ready only a month after arthroscopic left knee surgery. Whenever Harrison tried to work during his own training camp, the knee repeatedly swelled badly.

• Mike Wallace said offensive coordinator Todd Haley's play calls are much different from those of Bruce Arians', but this isn't hampering him as the wide receiver learns the offense. “I'm not the quarterback. I don't need to listen to the whole play call. I listen to it just to know it, but I'm listening just for certain things … key words (which apply to his pass route),” Wallace said.

• According to the Steelers' depth chart, rookie Chris Rainey is the primary kickoff and punt returner after having a pair of long punt returns in a six-minute span wiped out by penalties. Rainey averaged 22 yards on three kickoff returns and 8.7 yards on seven punt returns during the preseason.

— Alan Robinson

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