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Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger throws; 4th-round pick Jones signs

| Thursday, June 13, 2013, 4:54 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger couldn't stay away.

Recovering from a minor right knee operation June 5, Roethlisberger was on the practice field throwing Wednesday, center Maurkice Pouncey said.

“He's been doing great,” Pouncey said Thursday during an NFL Network appearance. “He was actually out at practice, throwing around to all of the receivers, being involved, giving plays to the quarterback. Everybody knows Ben. He plays through all types of different injuries.”

Earlier in the week, Roethlisberger, who was supposed to be out until the start of training camp July 26, said he could have played a week from now if it were the regular season.

“I'm pretty sure if we had a game, probably not next week but the week after, he'd definitely be playing in it,” Pouncey said.

The Wednesday practice turned out to be the last of the Steelers' offseason workouts. Coach Mike Tomlin called off practice Thursday morning, in time for him to take part in the first day of his summer youth camp at Brashear High School.

Restricting bags

The Steelers will follow the recommendation of the NFL's stadium security committee and limit the size and type of bags that can be brought into Heinz Field. Among the items banned are regular-sized ladies' handbags.

They are encouraging fans not to bring any bags but will allow those that are clear plastic or vinyl and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags and small clutch bags that are about the size of a hand. Prohibited items include purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, seat cushions and computer or camera bags.

Exceptions will be made for medically necessary items.

Final draft pick signs

Quarterback Landry Jones, the second of the Steelers' two fourth-round draft picks, became the last member of the 2013 class to reach contract terms when he signed Thursday.

Because the NFL rookie wage scale largely predetermines salaries, the likely holdup was the amount of the signing bonus. Every other pick was signed by last week.

Shamarko Thomas, the first of those fourth-round picks, was the first Steelers pick to sign.

Tomlin: Shape up

Tomlin, disturbed about all the fourth-quarter losses a season ago, is emphasizing conditioning. He hasn't named names, but the message was sent loudly during offseason practices.

Tomlin said the key isn't what shape the Steelers are in now but where they are July 26.

“(The conditioning) is satisfactory to this point, but obviously there is a lot of time between now and when we get going,” he said. “They have an opportunity to grow in that area, and we expect them to.”

As for training camp being six weeks away, Tomlin said, “I'm more concerned about our guys being prepared than ready. We talk openly about the differences between the two.”

Polamalu deflects attention

With James Harrison gone, is Troy Polamalu is now the face of the defense?

Polamalu, one of the NFL's best-known players, in part, because of his shampoo commercials, laughed at the suggestion.

“I'm a different face,” Polamalu said. “You never replace a guy like James, but James never replaced Joey Porter. Joey Porter never replaced his predecessor, either, Jason Gildon. Roles differ. James Farrior was not the leader that Joey was, but he was a great leader in his own way. Same with Hines (Ward) replacing Jerome (Bettis). I think people like to put people in a box and say, ‘That's his role. This is his role.' It's much more dynamic.”

Foote: LBs should excel on special teams

Call it the “linebackers versus secondary” challenge.

Inside linebacker Larry Foote wants the linebackers to return to being the dominant players on special teams, not the cornerbacks and safeties.

“Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones and Chris Carter and others, we need those guys to step up to fill those roles, not only on defense but on special teams,” Foote said. “We lost important guys off special teams. We need linebackers to dominate that unit. That's what we used to be known for. The last couple of years, defensive backs took that role. But I think it's important that our young guys know we need to dominate on special teams.”

During the offseason, the Steelers shed linebacker Brandon Johnson and safeties Will Allen and Ryan Mundy.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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