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Tomlin: No reason to rush Hartwig

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By Scott Brown
Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wide receiver Hines Ward is not the only starter the Steelers are bringing along slowly because of an injury.

Center Justin Hartwig has been limited during offseason practices as the ninth-year veteran is still recovering from the shoulder surgery he had following the 2009 season.

Coach Mike Tomlin said there is no reason to rush Hartwig given his experience and familiarity with the offense.

"It provides an opportunity for some young guys at the position to get quality (repetitions)," Tomlin said.

Doug Legursky has been working primarily with the first-team offense at center, while rookie Maurkice Pouncey has also been used there as well as at right guard.

Pouncey, a first-round draft pick, is considered the eventual successor to Hartwig at center. He could challenge Trai Essex for the starting job at right guard this season.

Hartwig isn't expected to be limited by his shoulder when the Steelers start preseason practice July 30.

Wilson enjoys challenge

Running back may be the position where the Steelers are least experienced. There is little depth behind Rashard Mendenhall, who is entering his second season as a starter, and backup Mewelde Moore.

But that doesn't mean running backs coach Kirby Wilson isn't up to the challenge of working with young players.

"I really enjoy their attitude and work ethic," Wilson said. "They want to learn, so it's fun right now."

Rookie Jonathan Dwyer, a sixth-round pick, and second-year man Isaac Redman are among those who will vie for a spot in a rotation during training camp.

Frank Summers, meanwhile, has been working primarily at fullback after seeing limited action at the position a year ago.

"We're trying to develop him as a top-level fullback," Wilson said of the 5-10, 230-pound Summers.

As for all of the players under his tutelage, Wilson said: "There are days I've got to control my emotions because it's about teaching, it's about coaching, it's about correcting. It's about knowing when to step on the gas and when to step off the gas."

Rookie watch

Coaches don't usually single out rookies - unless it is to correct their mistake — but cornerback Crezdon Butler has made an impression on secondary coach Ray Horton.

"(No.) 40 is rising," Horton said of Butler, a 6-1, 190-pounder drafted in the fifth round. "I know I'm talking about a rookie, but it looks like he's going to make our team better."

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