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Essex's return is worth weight for Steelers

| Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011

Veteran offensive lineman Trai Essex returned to the Steelers on Tuesday and revealed that he came close to eating himself out of football.

Essex, the last of the Steelers' unrestricted free agents to sign with a team, said he dropped a "significant amount" of weight before signing a one-year contract.

The 6-foot-5 Essex, who is listed at 324 pounds, did not give a specific figure as to how much weight he had lost.

"A couple of newborn babies," Essex said.

Essex said the Steelers realized how much bigger he had gotten when he attended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's wedding in late July.

"They see there's a huge different between now and then," Essex said. "I had to take a look at myself and realize that if I want to play this game, I'm going to be in shape," Essex said. "I had to change my diet. No eating at night, no McDonald's, no Burger King."

Essex, who has started 25 games during his six-year career, is versatile enough to play tackle or guard.

For at least the short term, Essex figures to add depth at left tackle with starter Jonathan Scott sidelined with a minor knee injury.

"They know what I'm capable of," Essex said of the coaches, "so they know what position to put me in to excel."

» Starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu said the plan is for him to play Saturday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Kemoeatu missed the Steelers' first two games because of swelling in his knee. The Steelers play the Falcons at 7:30 p.m. at Heinz Field. It will be the Steelers' next-to-last preseason game and the final one in which the starters see extensive action.

» The dedication of Chuck Noll Way, near Heinz Field, has been postponed.

A ceremony honoring the legendary Steelers coach was scheduled for Tuesday, but Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is attending a funeral Wednesday for one of the victims of last week's flooding.

Ravenstahl, Steelers president Art Rooney II and former players Mel Blount and Andy Russell were supposed to take part in a ceremony today at 10 a.m. outside of Stage AE on the North Shore.

It will be rescheduled for a later date.

Noll is the only coach to win four Super Bowls. He coached the Steelers from 1969-81, helping to change the course of a franchise that had never won a playoff game prior to his arrival.

Noll, who is living in Florida, will not be able to attend the ceremony honoring him because of health issues.

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