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07-27-2006, 11:08 PM
Quest for No. 6

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, July 28, 2006


No matter the math, the Steelers know the path.
All roads initially lead to Latrobe and eventually to the Super Bowl.

"We're going to start working on (title) No. 2 ... or No. 6," guard Alan Faneca said Sunday at Heinz Field to an estimated crowd of 45,000 on hand for the Steelers' final celebration of last season's Super Bowl XL victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Faneca may have been a bit confused as to whether the franchise's fifth title should be grouped with the four from the 1970s while addressing a throng of black-and-gold clad Bon Jovi fans.

Wide receiver Hines Ward was not.

"We'll try to bring the sixth title to the city of Pittsburgh," Ward said.

The quest begins with players reporting by 6 tonight to begin the Steelers' 74th season and 40th training camp at St. Vincent College.

The roll call of 87 players scheduled for check-in features 47 names that were included on the 53-man active roster when the Steelers beat the Seahawks, 21-10, on Feb. 5 in Detroit.

Among the 47 are 10 of 11 starters on offense, nine of 11 on defense and six of the seven specialists (kicker, punter, long-snapper, holder, punt-returner and a pair of kickoff-returners).

"We keep these same cats around here, I think we could seriously do this every year," defensive end Brett Keisel said in the euphoric winning locker room at Ford Field in February.

They'll have their chance, starting with a training camp Steelers coach Bill Cowher hopes will be characterized by competition and familiarity.

Keisel, a fifth-year pro, is in line to replace one of the few who won't be back, defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen. To win a starting spot for the first time in his career, Keisel will have to hold off Shaun Nua. The four-year, $13.1-million contract awarded Keisel, an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, speaks to the Steelers' faith in his ability and potential.

Other battles to be waged at St. Vincent this summer include:

? Cedrick Wilson vs. the field at wide receiver: Antwaan Randle El, a starter last year, must be replaced. Wilson produced a year ago in the playoffs after a quiet regular season, but the staff loves the depth at the position.

? Kendall Simmons vs. Chris Kemoeatu at right guard: Like Wilson, Simmons came on late in 2005. Kemoeatu, a sixth-round pick a year ago, is a player of great promise, but he might still be a year away.

? Duce Staley vs. Verron Haynes and, perhaps, Cedric Humes at running back: Someone has to replace Jerome Bettis as the complement to Willie Parker.

? Deshea Townsend vs. Bryant McFadden at right cornerback: It's a matter of time until the change is made, but Townsend won't go down without a fight.

? Ryan Clark vs. Tyrone Carter and, perhaps, Anthony Smith at free safety: Clark was brought in from the Redskins as a short-term replacement for Chris Hope, but he'll have to get past Carter first.

The return jobs also are up for grabs. Draft picks Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid might replace Randle El on punts. Those two also will be in the mix to return kickoffs, as will fellow wide receiver Quincy Morgan, who finished last season on the injured reserve list, and cornerback Ricardo Colclough, an incumbent in that role.