Dixon says he will never ask Steelers to trade him
Dennis Dixon said Monday that he never asked the Steelers to trade him, nor will he. However, that doesn't mean the Steelers' reserve quarterback wouldn't welcome a trade with open arms. "It's not that I don't want to (be traded), but I've never (asked for) a trade before," Dixon said. Dixon wants to have a shot to compete for a starting quarterback spot, but he knows that there is not an opportunity in his current situation as the Steelers' No. 3 quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger. There was a report last week that Dixon's agent, Jeff Sperbeck, asked the Steelers to trade his client. Dixon did not refute that report. "He was kind of frustrated as far as things not going our way during free agency," Dixon said. Dixon, 26, was a restricted free agent this past offseason, and the Steelers slapped a modest fifth-round tender on him before the lockout. After shopping himself around the league for a week, Dixon decided to sign the tender to return to the Steelers for a little more than a $1 million. "It is kind of tough to say right now," Dixon said when asked if he wants to be traded. "As long as I have a job, I am happy. I love Pittsburgh to death, but if anything else comes my way, I will be happy as well." Dixon will be an unrestricted free agent next year.
• Free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery left St. Vincent College yesterday without a contract. Cotchery, who played for the N.Y. Jets for seven seasons, was the second veteran receiver the Steelers have entertained since arriving at camp. Plaxico Burress visited the Steelers before eventually signing with the Jets. The Steelers would like to add a veteran wideout with Hines Ward to a young group that consists of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
• Rashard Mendenhall welcomes as many carries as Mike Tomlin affords him this year, even if he is coming off a year where he had more carries than any other back in the league including the postseason (385). "I feel fine, and I am ready for whatever they want to give me," Mendenhall said. Even though Mendenhall said that pounding never got to him last year, he did add: "stuff adds up after a while." In 31 career starts over a 16-month span including the playoffs, Mendenhall has carried the ball 620 times.
Inside the ropes
• Hines Ward was removed from the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time this training camp Monday.
Ward missed eight practices while still recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.
"It felt good getting back out here," Ward said. "I needed a starting point, and today was a good starting point."
Ward went through selected team drills and said he is uncertain if he will play in Friday's preseason opener at Washington.
Ward was able to make a couple of nice catches including a sliding grab at the 1-yard line from Ben Roethlisberger during a red-zone drill.
Ward, who injured his thumb during a Week 2 game in Tennessee last year, plans on wearing a splint on the thumb for the foreseeable future.
"I will be fine for the season opener in Baltimore," Ward said.
• Gov. Tom Corbett, a Shaler native, was on hand to watch Steelers practice yesterday after spending the morning tending to gubernatorial duties in Pittsburgh. Corbett met with owner Dan Rooney during practice and coach Mike Tomlin along with Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith afterward. "I'm a Steeler," Corbett said. "The first thing I did when I moved into the governor's residence was put up the sign 'You're in Steelers Country' in the middle of the state dining room."
• The Steelers picked up rookie defensive end Jarrett Crittenton and released Ty Boyle.
• Not practicing were OL Ramon Foster, OL Chris Kemoeatu, TE Eugene Bright, WR Armand Robinson, WR Adam Mims, LB James Harrison, CB Cortez Allen, CB Curtis Brown, LB Mario Harvey and WR Emmanuel Sanders. WR Limas Sweed (shoulder) and LT Jonathan Scott (ankle) left practice early, while CB Crezdon Butler and CB Bryant McFadden were limited to individual drills.
• Franklin Regional and Pitt graduate John Malecki took some snaps at center.
Position: Defensive end
Measurable: 6-foot-5, 288 pounds
College: Ohio State, rookie first-round
Competition: Heyward is catching on well to Dick LeBeau's complex 3-4 scheme and could see plenty of action as the season progresses, even though Mike Tomlin rarely uses rookies during their first year. Heyward sits behind veteran Brett Keisel at right defensive end.
Camp moment: Monday's practice was Heyward's most impressive so far. Heyward scraped down the line nicely during one play to clobber rookie running back John Clay for no gain; stood toe-to-toe with Doug Legursky twice during one-on-one drills; and routinely ran to the ball 30 yards down the field.
Quotable: "I am trying to get better every day. I am just starting to get into better football shape. To be on the field and run with these guys, I am just getting better." -- Cameron Heyward