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Steelers notebook: Marquee players get night off

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By Alan Robinson
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

As expected, coach Mike Tomlin sat out numerous regulars, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. The offensive line of Mike Adams, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert began the game, but they were the only offensive regulars who did. Pouncey, Foster and DeCastro were lifted for the second series. Kelvin Beachum, the top offensive line backup, spent part of the game at center.

• Defensive starters who began the game were nose tackle Steve McLendon, defensive end Ziggy Hood, linebacker Jason Worilds and cornerback Cortez Allen, who played in his second preseason game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The Panthers did not start quarterback Cam Newton.

• The Steelers' revolving carousel at running back continued with Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones all getting carries by the midpoint of the second quarter. Jones had the most success of the three in gaining yardage after initial contact.

• The Steelers must reduce their roster from 75 to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.

• Steelers tight end David Paulson not only caught a 13-yard touchdown pass, he vaulted over safety Robert Lester to complete an acrobatic 11-yard pass play in the first half.

• Jones (kickoffs) and wide receiver Justin Brown (punts) began the game as the kick returners. Brown might be competing for a roster spot with another former Penn State receiver, Derek Moye. On the Panthers' second punt, Brown signaled for a fair catch at his own 23 with no potential Panthers tacklers around him. Moye had catches of 32 and 23 yards in the second quarter. Wide receiver Reggie Dunn also got a pair of carries.

• General manager Kevin Colbert said during a pregame interview on KDKA-TV there are no ongoing contract negotiations. The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts during the season. Among the players entering the final year of their contracts are wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Hood.

• For the third straight game, veteran Brian Moorman punted in the first half, but this time incumbent Drew Butler took over in the second quarter rather than the second half. Steelers veteran players were talking this week as if Butler would retain his job. Moorman had a 55-yard punt that he attempted to put down inside the 5, but it bounced into the end zone. Moorman left the field shaking his head but returned for a 31-yarder in the third quarter.

Rashard Mendenhall's departure after last season left the Steelers without any members of their 2008 draft class. The Panthers already are down to two active players from their 2011 draft class: Newton and defensive tackle Sione Fua. Wide receiver Kealoha Pilares went on the injured reserve list earlier this week.

• Panthers owner Jerry Richardson drives his own golf car around Bank of America Stadium, so he shuttled Steelers co-owner Dan Rooney to the bench to watch the pregame warmups.

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