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Steelers

Steelers get comfortable at Latrobe training camp

| Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009

LATROBE - Moments after center Justin Hartwig arrived at Steelers training camp Friday, rookie A.Q. Shipley unloaded a microwave from Hartwig's truck and carried it into his dorm room at St. Vincent College.

The older, wiser lineman knows from experience how to make his not-so-luxurious living space for the next three weeks a bit cozier.

For Hartwig, comfort food is critical. For offensive tackle Max Starks, simply comfort matters most, and that's why an egg crate for under his bed is a camp must-have. Defensive tackle Chris Hoke can't go without Peanut M&Ms. Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace couldn't leave home without electronics, all of them.

"My girlfriend did cook me a bunch of food just in case the camp food gets old," Hartwig said, explaining that he brought the microwave to heat up her homemade food. "She made me some Hamburger Helper, chicken and broccoli casserole and some homemade chicken noodle soup."

Even after he dresses it up, Hartwig's room won't be anything too lavish. He rented a 30-inch television and brought his computer. Unlike his earlier years in camp, the eight-year veteran is thrilled to have access to wireless internet.

There's not much downtime, but Hartwig's iPod Touch with downloaded games will keep him busy when he isn't studying his playbook or practicing.

Entering his sixth camp, Starks still isn't very fond of the living situation, but he managed to make light of it upon his arrival.

"Oh they're wonderful," he said, of the dorms. "It's a nice twin-sized bed when you walk in there. It's a nice wooden desk with a wooden chair to match with no cushion. It feels great. And the AC always freezes on you, but other than that ... No, I'm just kidding. It reminds you of college and reminds you of getting back to basics. It has essentials. It has a toilet. It has a sink, and it has a bed. What else do you ask for?

Stark's comfort item that makes his nights at camp just a bit more bearable is his egg crate. It's "usually numero uno on the list," he said. He places the egg crate under his bed to make it a bit softer.

"It's nothing but springs and no padding, so you want to make it at least a little comfortable, because after you go run into a bunch of human beings for about two-and-a-half hours, your body gets a little sore."

Hoke didn't bring many accessories for his room. He brought his laptop with pictures of his family and one of his favorite goodies: a jumbo bag of peanut M&Ms.

"They're my favorite," he said. "I gotta have them."

Punter Daniel Sepulveda travels lightly. In fact, he didn't bring any electronics - computer, IPod, video games - with him to camp, just the essentials. He did bring a fan, though, which was a popular item among the Steelers.

"Just a pillow and a blanket," Sepulveda said. "I'm easy to please."

Wallace, on the other hand, brought numerous forms of entertainment to his first camp. He brought a 42-inch, flat-screen television, a small movie collection -- including "The Hangover," "Pineapple Express" and "The Dark Knight" -- PlayStation 3 and an iPod.

"I just want to try to relax a little after practice and before I go to sleep at night," Wallace said.

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