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Steelers notebook: Tomlin won't discuss discipline for Bell, Blount

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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his weekly news conference Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, on the South Side.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, 1:06 p.m.

• Coach Mike Tomlin still won't reveal if running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were punished internally after being charged with marijuana possession, and Bell for DUI, en route to a team plane Aug. 20. “That will be between us,” Tomlin said.

• Three-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is readying for his first game since missing all but eight plays of the 2013 season with a major knee injury. Pouncey believes the year-long layoff from football refocused him. “I think it humbled me a lot. I was telling the guys, you don't really appreciate it as much until it's all the way gone,” he said. “I think I needed it in some sort of way.”

• The Steelers are relatively healthy going into their first home opener against the Browns since 1989. “Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage and start the season off fast,” said tight end Heath Miller, whose recovery from knee surgery kept him out of the first two games in 2013. “(But) injuries are a part of it, whether you deal with it at the first of the season or the middle or the end.”

• Still to be determined is how much defensive end Brett Keisel can play after missing all of training camp and appearing in only one exhibition game. “I still think we're getting a sense of what Brett is capable of from a snap standpoint,” Tomlin said. “That will have a lot to do with his utilization in the game, along with the performance of others.” With Cam Heyward now at left end, Keisel's former position, Keisel could switch between both sides.

Alejandro Villanueva is a former West Point wide receiver who became a defensive lineman during a five-year military layoff. He won a medal for valor during three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. He was cut by the Eagles after being signed out of a tryout, but is now on the Steelers' practice squad. “(He) has some upside, some talent but, aside from talent, has some special characteristics that might assist him in terms of helping that talent come out,” Tomlin said.

Ryan Shazier will be the first rookie linebacker to start an opener for the Steelers in a Dick LeBeau defense. “He'll be better in two weeks than he is today,” Tomlin said. “I think that's one of the points you continue to re-iterate to young players.”

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