View Full Version : Steeler Update 4/20

04-20-2009, 10:07 PM
Eight vets miss Steelers first spring practice
Monday, April 20, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At least eight Steelers veterans did not turn out for the team's first spring practice today, but Hines Ward said not to read anything into the missing.

"We have the main core of guys," said Ward. "Some guys aren't here, some guys' flights got canceled and lot of guys didn't make it. We never had that problem. Once training camp comes around and minicamp next week, we'll have the full team. Everybody will be here. We never had that problem with us."

Among the missing were Santonio Holmes, Willie Parker, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Tyrone Carter and Nick Eason.

Holmes' flight from Florida was delayed, and Ward said the Super Bowl MVP arrived in Pittsburgh too late for the workout which ended at noon. It was the first of 14 voluntary spring workouts that will be held through June 11. A required minicamp will be held May 1-3.

Ward is among a large group of Steelers who enter the final year of their contracts. The last time that happened, Ward held out for the first two weeks of training camp in 2005. He said that won't happen this year, no matter what. Linebacker James Harrison is the only player who had one year left and whose contract was extended this year.

"The contract, we're just going to play and whatever happens happens,'' Ward said.

"I want to be a Steeler . . . I don't want to put on another uniform. I'm late in the game now to worry about it. You look at all the previous players who went on and played for other places. I learned a lot from Jerome [Bettis], what he did. I want to go down in Steelers history to be one of the better wideouts to wear the black and gold."

Ward did not practice today because he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn left rotator cuff after the season. He said he will gradually work himself into things.

Hampton says he'll be ready

Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who skipped most of the voluntary workouts last year, turned out for the first this year and said he will be a frequent participant this spring. He's another player entering the final year of his deal, but said he's not worried.

"They didn't do it last time until training camp so I wouldn't expect anything different. My recent history with coming in out of shape, I think they'll want to see how I'm coming in."

He has no plans to alter his training routine, though. Last year, he spent the first two weeks of camp on the physically unable to perform list because coach Mike Tomlin declared him not in shape to practice.

"It is what is is,'' Hampton said. "I'll be ready to play, that's the bottom line. Whenever, Sept. 10 or 11? I'll be ready to go. That's all that matters."

Super Bowl hangover?

Both Ward and Hampton said they want to win another Super Bowl this season, and their 2006 season taught them something about the so-called Super Bowl hangover.

"I think last time we got a little bit lax," Hampton said. "I think that's going to help us this time and we won't get as complacent as we did last time.''

Ward said his personal goal is to reach 10,000 yards receiving -- he needs 220 yards to do so -- and win a third Super Bowl in five seasons.

"I want to win another one. The teams in the '70s, they won four. If we can win another one, then I think we'll be right up there with New England as one of the teams in the 'dynasty' since I've been here. So, winning another Super Bowl and accomplishing 10,000 yards would be a big thing for me personally.''

NOTES -- Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, said RB Gary Russell was released last week to make room under the salary cap to re-sign backup QB Charlie Batch ... Jared Retkofsy, who became the Steelers' long snapper last season after Greg Warren's ACL was torn, has his right arm in a sling following surgery after a motorcycle accident. Warren snapped in practice today ... Also practicing after 2008 season-ending injuries were RB Rashard Mendenhall (broken shoulder), P Daniel Sepulveda (ACL) and Batch (broken collar bone).

04-20-2009, 10:36 PM
Here is another version of this story by the A.P.

Holmes, Polamalu among missing as champs open voluntary camp

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Super Bowl champions don't get much of an offseason.

Only 2 months after the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals for the franchise's sixth NFL title, the Steelers -- at least most of them -- were back on the practice field Monday. Rain chased them indoors for the first of 14 organized team practices that run periodically through early June and are a supplement to next week's mandatory three-day minicamp.

After winning their second Super Bowl in four seasons, wide receiver Hines Ward said the Steelers don't need to be pushed and prodded to return to practice.

Apparently not. All-Pro linebacker James Harrison was working out again only two days after the Steelers' thrilling 27-23 win over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Wide receiver Limas Sweed was talked out of doing conditioning work later that same week, but he waited only two weeks before resuming his personal workouts.

The Steelers are being driven by two factors, according to Ward: 1) A determination not to repeat the major letdown of their post-Super Bowl 2006 season, when they started 2-6 and finished 8-8, and 2) A desire to match the three Super Bowls won in recent history by New England, and perhaps even the four won by the Steelers of the 1970s.

"I know I want to win another one," Ward said. "The teams in the 1970s, they won four. If we can win another one, then I think we'll be right up there with New England as one of the teams in the dynasty."

Nose tackle Casey Hampton believes one more Super Bowl victory would cause these Steelers to be remembered as one of the best teams in NFL history.

While they've changed coaches, from Bill Cowher to Mike Tomlin, since winning Super Bowl XL, many of the key players (Ward, Hampton, Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Heath Miller, James Farrior, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Larry Foote and Deshea Townsend) are the same.

"Especially with the same core of guys, it's kind of like the same team," Hampton said. "We're trying to catch the old Steelers, back in the day, see if we can get us four, see what that would be like."

Since the Steelers won four times during the 1974-79 seasons and the 49ers won four from 1981-89 (plus a fifth in 1994), the only teams to win three Super Bowls are the Cowboys (1992-93, 1995) and the Patriots (2001, 2003-04).

Hampton said the Steelers got "lax ... forgot how we got there" after winning three years ago, but Ward promised that won't happen again.

"We've been through that. The veteran guys who were on that first Super Bowl we won a couple of years ago, we came back with a disappointing 8-8 year," Ward said. "I think there's a different mindset coming into this. We've got a lot of veteran guys mixed in with a lot of new, unproven guys who have to step up their game. And coach Tomlin, he won't let us have a down year. His expectation levels are very high, and they should be."

Intentionally or not, management is allowing a number of players -- among them Ward, Hampton, Foote, Miller, Parker, Keisel, safety Ryan Clark and kicker Jeff Reed -- to go into the final season of their contracts. Only All-Pro linebacker James Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and left guard Chris Kemoeatu have signed new contracts.

Some others could be re-signed by the end of training camp, but the franchise's philosophy has long been that playing for a new contract isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"We're not going to get as complacent as we got the last time," Hampton said.

The last time Ward was going into the last season of a contract, in 2005, he stayed out of training camp for two weeks before reporting. He signed a contract extension the week of the season opener.

Ward said he won't stay out this time. One reason is he is only 220 yards away from reaching the 10,000-yard receiving mark, a number reached by only 31 players in NFL history.

"I don't want to put on another uniform," the 33-yard-old Ward said. "I'm too late in the game (his career) to worry about it. You look at all the previous players who went on and played in other places. I learned a lot from Jerome (Bettis), what he did. I want to go down in Steelers history to be one of the better wideouts to wear the black and gold."

Among those missing Monday, some due to travel problems, were Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, Polamalu, Parker, Clark, Foote, Timmons and safety Tyrone Carter. Ward did not practice because he is recovering from left rotator cuff surgery, but he was in uniform.

Working out were three players who missed all or most of last season -- punter Daniel Sepulveda (knee), backup quarterback Charlie Batch (broken collarbone) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (shoulder).

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press


Fire Haley
04-20-2009, 10:42 PM
Santonio Holmes, Willie Parker, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Tyrone Carter and Nick Eason

I bet they are having one of them 420 parties.

04-20-2009, 11:12 PM
Already posted: http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?p=592785#post592785