Steelers Notebook: Simmons sprints to forget past
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kendall Simmons sprinted the final 40 yards yesterday as if he were erasing a bad memory, which was precisely the idea.
He missed last season after the ACL in his right knee was torn in practice at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. He returned to that field yesterday and he and the knee were up to the test. Simmons ended the grueling series of 14 40-yard dashes by sprinting to the finish, easily coming in first in his group.
And today, nearly one full year after his injury, he steps back in at his old job, starting right guard, when the Steelers hold their first two practices.
"I have nothing to hold me back from doing what I want to do this time," Simmons said. "I want to go out there and show them I still have it. That's it. I haven't thought about [the knee] at all. I feel like a rookie again -- anxious, a lot of nervous energy to get out."
That finishing kick made a statement "to myself," Simmons said.
"Just run as hard as I can, man. Just come out to prove more or less to myself that I'm in pretty good shape. It's a big test."
In another group and under similar circumstances, nose tackle Casey Hampton also completed the full 14 dashes. Hampton missed half of last season with a torn ACL yet ran better than he did in camp two years ago, when he could not finish.
"You look at the two guys coming back, Casey and Kendall Simmons, they were very, very impressive," coach Bill Cowher said. "This is as light as Casey's been since his rookie year.
"Kendall Simmons, you saw how he finished that last one. That's one focused player right now. It's good to see. Those are two big players we didn't have for most of last year and they're integral parts of our lines on both sides."
No opposing scrimmage
The Steelers used to scrimmage against another NFL team during training camp, often traveling to meet the Redskins or Washington making the trip to Latrobe.
They haven't done it in years, though, and won't do it again this summer.
"We don't scrimmage people the last couple of years because I feel we've been very competitive, offense vs. defense," Cowher said. "You're going to get to a point where you walk that line because sometimes it can get testy out here. And I want it to be that, but they have to leave it on the field, and when we come on this field there has to be a sense of purpose."
Nine players did not run with their teammates yesterday -- both punters, both kickers, quarterback Charlie Batch, center Jeff Hartings and three running backs, Duce Staley, Jerome Bettis and Verron Haynes. ... Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talking to reporters on the topic of a sophomore jinx: "All you guys think I'm going to have it, so I'm not going to."
Hopefully Simmons will stay healthy and do very well this year.