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Steelers notebook: Blount feeling backfield is disrespected

| Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 8:06 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount has yet to take a meaningful snap for the Steelers, but already he said he feels he and fellow running back Le'Veon Bell have been disrespected.

Blount signed a two-year, $3.85 million free agent contract in March, pairing with Bell to give the Steelers a potent, one-two backfield combination.

But apparently not one of the best duos, at least according to NFL Network analyst and former player Bucky Brooks.

Brooks listed his top five backfield duos last month and left out the Bell/Blount combination.

“I noticed that we're not one of them, and I don't like it,” Blount said Wednesday following the second day of organized team activities. “In all honesty, I believe they're downgrading the skill level that we have in our backfield by not thinking that we have one of the best running back groups. So I think that's kind of disrespectful.”

Bell rushed for 860 yards and scored eight touchdowns as a rookie, and Blount added 772 yards and seven TDs in New England last season despite not being the featured back until late in the year.

Brooks' top five were Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles; Buffalo's C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson; Detroit's Reggie Bush and Joique Bell; New York Jets' Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory; and San Diego's Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown.

“We're not going to go out here and go on about how we're not in that group, but we're going to go out and show that we belong there,” Blount said. “I think we have a really good mix of running backs. Our group is good. We have the ability to do a lot of good things.”

No worry about Troy

Add safety Mike Mitchell to the group of those not worried that Troy Polamalu decided not to attend the offseason workouts.

Polamalu was not present for the second straight practice and isn't expected to work with his new safety partner until mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

“I think it will be fine,” Mitchell said. “He's a veteran. I'm a veteran. It shouldn't take long as long as we both know what we're doing. There's certain things we'll be able to talk about, but for right now I'm still learning the playbook. Once I know what I'm doing, then he and I can work on changing some things up if we choose to do that.”

More than a deep threat

When you have 4.2-second, 40-yard speed, you are labeled as a deep threat. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a guy who can stretch the defense but considers himself an all-around receiver who also can play in the slot.

“The one thing that has kept me in this league is that I am a smart guy, and I know a lot of different places to play on the field,” Heyward-Bey said. “Coaches like to play guys who know what they are doing first over the guy who has all the ability. That's one thing that works in my favor.”

Shazier mixing it up

Ryan Shazier quickly is learning that being thrown into the starting lineup as a rookie might come with an extra bump from the offensive linemen.

“You know offensive linemen try to be big and bad, so I just go in there and rough it up with them at times,” Shazier said. “I am just learning what I have to do and learn the type of games that they play.”

Odds and ends

Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Dri Archer were absent for the second consecutive day. Archer, a rookie third-round pick out of Kent State, was excused both days because of a sickness. Jason Worilds and Jordan Zumwalt also were not present. Worilds said Tuesday he injured his leg but dismissed the issue as one related to cramps. ... The Steelers were awarded cornerback Deion Belue off waivers from the Miami Dolphins and released rookie tackle Kaycee Ike.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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