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Steelers sign five free agents, two of whom have started

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By Scott Brown
Friday, May 1, 2009

The Steelers have added two veterans with starting experience, wide receiver Shaun McDonald and cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, among the five free agents they signed today.

The Steelers also signed veteran punter Dirk Johnson, wide receiver/kick returner Jayson Foster and kicker Piotr Czech and released long snapper Jared Retkofsky.

Retkofsky handled snapping duties in the Steelers' final 12 games last season but he hurt his shoulder during the offseason in a motorcycle accident.

McDonald led the Detroit Lions in receiving in 2007 with 79 catches for 943 yards and six touchdowns. Last season the 5-10, 183-pounder had 35 catches for 332 yards and a touchdown. Ratliff played parts of the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and had 34 tackles and two interceptions.

Johnson, an eighth-year NFL veteran, played 12 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season and averaged 41.8 yards per punt and had a net average of 35.2 yards.

Foster spent part of last season on the Steelers' practice squad and was also with the Broncos before Denver released him earlier this week.

Czech was in training camp with the Ravens last season.

The new signees are among the almost 90 players taking part in mini camp practices, which started today.

There is one notable though not unexpected absence. Linebacker Larry Foote said earlier this week he would skip mini camp, which runs today through Sunday, because the eighth-year veteran wants the Steelers to trade or release him.

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