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Steelers starters won't see much work Saturday

| Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009


• If the offense has some success Saturday night against Washington, the starters won't play much more than they did in the Steelers' preseason opener. "We're shooting for 15 snaps," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Roughly the first quarter." Starters such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played 14 snaps against the Cardinals on Aug. 13. The first-team offense played a little longer than initially planned because it only got one first down on its opening possession.

• Arians concurred with Roethlisberger that the QB's throwing arm is right where it needs to be with the Steelers breaking camp Friday. Roethlisberger has only taken one day off from throwing while the Steelers have been at St. Vincent. "He looks really good," Arians said. "I thought both he and Charlie (Batch) would take another day off, but it doesn't look like they are going to need it. We had one scheduled."

• Outside linebacker James Harrison didn't practice yesterday because of a stomach virus. "It shouldn't be a major issue," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. Rookie running back Frank "The Tank" Summers missed practice because of a hamstring issue. "Don't know the extent of it," Tomlin said. Running back Mewelde Moore practiced in uniform for the first time in two weeks. The sixth-year veteran had been sidelined with a nagging hamstring problem.

• After winning the Super Bowl MVP award last February, Santonio Holmes will attempt to take the next step and become one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL. One area in which Holmes is among the best receivers in the game, said Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, is blocking. If Holmes gets overshadowed in this aspect of the game, there is a reason: Teammate Hines Ward has long been considered the top blocking wideout in football -- and maybe of all-time. "If you watch the tape, he's darn near just as good as Hines, just coming back and blocking," Taylor said of Holmes. "He doesn't get credit for it."

• Coming off a breakout season in his first one as a starter, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said he his main goal for the 2009 campaign is to be consistent. "I don't want to be one of those guys where I have a good year and then I fade away," Woodley said. He recorded 11 1/2 sacks in the 2008 regular season but had just two in the Steelers' final seven games. He scoffed at the notion that he may have gotten worn down in the second half of the season. "I know I didn't hit a wall," Woodley said, "because I was applying pressure on the quarterbacks." He got to them plenty during the postseason, as Woodley had six sacks in three games.

• The Steelers practiced in a driving rain for part of yesterday afternoon's session. ... This afternoon is the last open practice of training camp. The Steelers break camp Friday following a walk-through for their game against the Redskins.


2:37 -- Time the Steelers put on the clock yesterday afternoon at the start of a two-minute drill. That is how much time was remained for the start of their final drive in Super Bowl XLIII.

27.5 -- Sacks Woodley and James Harrison combined for in the 2008 regular season.

Inside the ropes

KINDER, GENTLER CAMP: It all depends on how you look at coach Mike Tomlin's third training camp with the Steelers. In many ways, it has been a physcial camp, featuring the popular running backs against linebackers blocking drill, two goal-line drills and some big hits delivered by defensive players during 11-on-11 drills. On the other hand, Tomlin has given his veterans the majority of morning practices off, limiting the number of two-a-day workouts that take their toll on older players later in the season. Tomlin has worked his team hard, but he's done it in moderation.

NO-HUDDLE LOOK: For the second consecutive day, the offense worked on the no-huddle, which could be used against the Redskins on Saturday night in the Steelers' second preseason game.

GIVE-AND-TAKE: Rookie Mike Wallace got deep behind the secondary again Wednesday, catching a long touchdown pass. Among the defenders unable to keep up with Wallace was fellow rookie Keenan Lewis, who has been the victim of several big plays against Wallace during camp. Lewis took a measure of revenge later in the practice when he nailed Wallace on a short pass. The hit caused Wallace to drop the football.

DIXON IN RHYTHM: Second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon continues to impresss with his grasp of the offense and his execution of plays. Dixon was extremely accurate with his throws again yesterday. His long passes were on the mark, including a strike over the middle to Martin Nance.

-- By John Harris

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