Notebook: Moon's Shipley shaping up
By Mike Bires
Times Sports Staff
LATROBE — For starters, things went O.K. for A.Q.
“I feel 100 times better than I did during the OTAs and mini-camp,” said rookie center A.Q. Shipley as he walked off the practice field late Saturday. “I just have to go out and keep fighting day in and day out. It was a good first day.”
On his first day of training camp, Shipley worked with the third-team offensive line in 11-on-11 drills.
It was his first practice since the last of the OTAs in June and the first time he’s went through contact drills as a Steeler.
“It felt good to hit people again,” said Shipley, the former Moon Area star and All-American at Penn State.
After the afternoon, Shipley was one of the last Steelers to leave the field. He spent extra time working in techniques and even long snapping for punts, extra points and field goals.
“Just trying to get better,” he said. “As a rookie, you have to do extra things if you want to get better.”
As they try to fully recover to from off-season injuries, TE Heath Miller (sports hernia surgery) and C Justin Hartwig (toe) were limited at Saturday’s practices. They were in uniform and took part in several drills, but didn’t participate in any full-team sessions.
With those two limited, backups Matt Spaeth and Darnell Stapleton ran with the first-team offense.
Lining up at right guard, a position manned by Stapleton last year, was Trai Essex. When he reported Friday, Essex said he was promised a fair chance of beating out Stapleton for the starting job in a training camp competition.
Meanwhile, SS Troy Polamalu and CB Deshea Townsend both practiced even though coach Mike Tomlin suggested Friday that they may be limited with minor off-season hamstring injuries.
Three players — LB Lawrence Timmons, RB Isaac Redman and OL Doug Legursky —developed cramps during the afternoon practice session and couldn’t finish. They’re expected back today.
NO INTEREST IN VICK
Despite rumors that Michael Vick may wind up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers aren’t considering the idea.
The idea that Vick may sign with the Steelers started when ESPN football analyst Chris Mortensen said that Pittsburgh would be a perfect fit for the QB.
Then on Friday, a sports talk radio caller claimed to be a cab driver who had just taken Vick to team headquarters on the South Side.
“I don’t know whether he was in Pittsburgh or not,” coach Mike Tomlin said with a laugh. “But I’m in Latrobe and everybody else in our organization is as well.”
“We’re just focused on who’s here right now,” center Justin Hartwig said. “We’re just concerned about the Steelers. We’re not really concerned about Michael Vick.”
X’S AND O’S
* Shortly after arriving at camp, Ziggy Hood and Miller held press conferences to discuss their recently signed contracts.
Hood, a rookie defensive end who was the Steelers’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, agreed to a five-year deal reportedly worth $8.7 million, a $6.1 million signing bonus included.
“I’m ready to go to work,” said Hood, the fifth straight Steelers’ No. 1 pick to sign before the start of camp. “I would like to thank the Steelers for helping me get this done on time so I don’t have to miss any part of training camp.”
Meanwhile, Miller, a fifth-year tight end, signed a six-year deal worth $35.3 million, a $12.5 million signing bonus included.
“I’m lucky to be here,” said Miller, a first-round pick in the ‘05 draft. “I’m lucky to have been drafted here.
It’s the best organization in sports. I’m lucky to be here for a few more years.” (Good attitude. I like it. - mesa)
* Two former Steelers are at camp. Ex-center Dermontti Dawson is working with the scouting department. Ex-linebacker Earl Holmes, who’s an assistant coach at Florida A&M, is doing a two-week coaching internship. He’ll be in Latrobe until the Rattlers report for training camp.