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Roethlisberger praises Penguins

| Friday, June 6, 2008

Ben Roethlisberger could empathize with the Penguins a day after their season ended with a 3-2 loss in the sixth game of the Stanley Cup final.

As a rookie quarterback, he helped the Steelers to a 15-1 record in the 2004 regular season, but Pittsburgh lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.

"I'm sure they're feeling not too great right now, but they have to know that they're a young team, and they've got a lot of potential," Roethlisberger said Thursday after the Steelers' final practice of the week. "They made it further this year than they did last year, and there's nowhere to go but up from here. I think they've got all the potential in the world."

The Penguins can find some hope in what Roethlisberger did the season after the disappointing loss to the Patriots. He led the Steelers back to the playoffs and then became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, at age 23.

Roethlisberger was one of a handful of Steelers players who faithfully attended Penguins games during their run to the Stanley Cup final. He said the Penguins represented Pittsburgh well, showing "heart and determination," particularly in their epic victory in triple overtime Monday.

"That's what Pittsburgh's all about," Roethlisberger said.

In addition to attending Penguins games, Roethlisberger made a hockey fan out of starting left tackle Marvel Smith.

Smith had never seen an NHL game live before attending Wednesday night's contest at Mellon Arena.

"It was definitely a great experience," Smith said. "I wouldn't mind going back to many more games."

Steelers pass on workout

The agent for Anthony "Booger" McFarland said the private workout the veteran defensive tackle held for NFL teams Tuesday went well.

Agent Karl Bernard also had this to report about the workout: "The Steelers were not there."

McFarland missed all of last season because of a serious knee injury, and the Colts released him in February.

The 6-foot, 300-pounder visited the Steelers in March but has not been offered a contract.

The Steelers re-signed backup defensive ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason during the offseason but did not address their defensive line in the NFL Draft.

Asked if the Steelers are still interested in the 30-year-old McFarland, who played on Super Bowl-winning teams in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, Bernard said, "I don't know."

Extra points

The Steelers will hold their final three offseason practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The players then have roughly six weeks off before reporting to training camp in Latrobe on July 27.

"It's good to get those over with," Roethlisberger said of the organized team activity practices, "get a little bit of rest, work out a little bit more, and then it's nose to the grindstone." ... Kirschke recently had bone spurs removed from his right ankle and has been on crutches. He is expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. ... Guard Chris Kemoeatu said the left hamstring he pulled a couple of weeks ago is "about 95 percent." He has been taking part in the OTA practices the past two weeks. "Just gotta keep working," said Kemoeatu, who is expected to get first crack at the starting job at left guard.

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