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Steelers not interested in Pro Bowler Faneca

| Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Steelers have brought back four of their former players during the offseason.

A fifth ex-Steeler — and one of the greatest players in franchise history — is now on the open market.

The Jets released Alan Faneca on Saturday, but the veteran Pro Bowl left guard is a long shot to return to Pittsburgh, where he played from 1998-2007.

"At this point, we don't plan on signing any other veteran guys," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said yesterday, when asked specifically about Faneca.

The Jets released the nine-time Pro Bowl selection even though he's owed $5.2 million in guaranteed salary this year. His age (33) and the selection of Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday made Faneca expendable in New York.

Two years ago, the Jets signed Faneca to a five-year, $40 million contract, with $21 million in guarantees, which made him then the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

Open invitation

Ben Roethlisberger isn't permitted to practice or train with his teammates until July — one of the conditions of his recent NFL suspension for off-the-field behavior.

So, an invitation was extended to the Steelers quarterback to workout with speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw in Florida.

Shaw trains several NFL players at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., including James Farrior, Ike Taylor, William Gay, Bryant McFadden, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis and this year's Steelers first-round draft pick, Maurkice Pouncey.

"I think it would be great for him to be down here," said Shaw, who's trained NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick. "It would get him focused and get him away from all the other stuff.

"The big thing is it's smoking hot down here to train. You never have this humidity in Pittsburgh."

Taylor, an eight-year veteran who trains exclusively with Shaw when he's not working out with the Steelers during the offseason, extended the invitation to Roethlisberger.

Taylor said Roethlisberger hasn't accepted his invitation.

"I don't know (what he's going to do). I threw it out for him to work with coach Shaw," Taylor said. "I'm trying to recruit Ben because going into (training) camp in shape, that's the biggest thing."

Roethlisberger must undergo a behavioral evaluation ordered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that will prevent him from participating in team activities or using the team's facility to train.

The earliest that Roethlisberger can join team activities is when training camp opens in July.

No red flags

Sixth-round draft pick Jonathan Dwyer failed a drug test in February at the NFL Scouting Combine, but running backs coach Kirby Wilson said the Steelers have "no concerns at all" about that.

Dwyer, a running back from Georgia Tech, said he tested positive for medicine he has taken since fifth grade for attention deficit disorder.

"It's a medicine I still take each and every day, so it's not going to change soon," said Dwyer, who rushed for 1,395 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

While the Steelers added another player to their stable of backs with the selection of Dwyer, they don't have a traditional fullback on the roster.

Second-year man Frank Summers is practicing at running back and fullback, Wilson said.

Tight ends David Johnson and Sean McHugh also have experience as a lead blocker and could be used in that role in 2010.

More depth for OL

Fifth-round pick Chris Scott started for three years at left tackle for Tennessee but the 6-foot-4, 325-pounder said he's versatile enough to play any position along the offensive line.

"Center is the only position that I didn't have real-game experience (at Tennessee), but I did have a few practices and a few scrimmages (there)," he said. "Pretty much all the positions is what I've played."

The Steelers have added depth to their offensive line during the offseason.

They signed free-agent tackle Jonathan Scott in March and drafted guard/center Maurkice Pouncey (first round) as well as Scott, who's a friend and former college teammate of Steelers guard Ramon Foster.

Head start

Two of the 10 draft picks the Steelers made this year are from Ohio State.

They took outside linebacker Thaddeus Gibson in the fourth round yesterday and defensive end Doug Worthington with their seventh-round selection.

Gibson and Worthington's adjustment from college to the NFL may come a little easier for them than their new teammates.

"Ohio State probably plays as close to our defense schematically as any team in the country," Colbert said.

Extra points

The Steelers expect to sign five to seven undrafted rookie free agents, Colbert said. Scouts worked the phones yesterday afternoon trying to reach agreements with players who interest the Steelers and went undrafted. ... The Steelers open mini camp, which is mandatory, Friday. They will have five practices over a three-day period.

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