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Old 08-16-2009, 10:57 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Parker, Hartwig return to practice

Steelers Parker, Hartwig return to practice
By Scott Brown
Sunday, August 16, 2009

Running back Willie Parker returned to practice Saturday after missing almost a week because of a bad back. Center Justin Hartwig, meanwhile, participated fully in practice for the first time since camp started.

Hartwig has a fractured big toe on his right foot, and he said he finally got the OK that the injury wouldn't get any worse if he did everything in practice.

"I didn't want this to be a lingering problem," said Hartwig, who started every game at center last season for the Steelers. "I didn't want it to fracture worse."

Hartwig had said he didn't think his toe would be an issue when the players reported to camp July 31.

"But after talking with the doctors and the trainers, they wanted me to take a little more time for it to heal," he said. "I'm not 100 percent or close to it."

Hartwig and Parker are expected to play Saturday when the Steelers visit the Washington Redskins for an exhibition game, coach Mike Tomlin said.

Injury update

Running back Rashard Mendenhall didn't practice yesterday because of a thigh contusion. Tomlin said Mendenhall should have the "green light" to practice today.

Wide receiver Martin Nance (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis. Tomlin said he is hopeful Nance will be able to play against the Redskins.

Wide receiver Tyler Grisham and running back Mewelde Moore didn't practice because of hamstring issues.

Too many flags

After reviewing tape of Thursday's 20-10 win over the Cardinals, Tomlin said he will make reducing penalties a point of emphasis with the players. The Steelers were penalized seven times for 70 yards in the game.

"We'd like to play smarter," Tomlin said.

Tomlin said the Steelers want to eliminate pre- and post-snap penalties, which are almost always a result of mental miscues.

Batch unfazed

Backup quarterback Charlie Batch played just one series against the Cardinals, but he said it was good "to get that first hit out of the way."

Batch, who missed all of last season with a broken collarbone, took a hard shot after one of the two passes he attempted against the Cardinals.

He said he thought he would play more, but starter Ben Roethlisberger played two series, while No. 3 quarterback Dennis Dixon took the majority of the rest of the snaps.

"Ben wasn't supposed to go as long as he did," Batch said. "My time is based off of what the first-team offense does. In a perfect world, starters get seven to 10 plays, but if the coach doesn't like what he sees, they stay out there."

Here comes the bride

The players weren't the only ones being cheered at practice yesterday. Mike and Jen Detore got a round of applause as they were driven onto the practice area at St. Vincent.

The Greensburg residents got married yesterday afternoon, and they stopped at St. Vincent for pictures since it was on the way to the reception.

The Steelers ushered the Detores, who were in their tuxedo and wedding gown, respectively, to the practice field along with the best man and maid of honor.

They got to see a Steelers Super Bowl ring, and kicker Jeff Reed signed a Terrible Towel for the happy couple.

Inside the Ropes

A daily look at the best parts of the Steelers' training camp in Latrobe:

BEN THROWING BETTER: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he's a slow starter in training camp. The first week, Roethlisberger struggled with his throws. Saturday afternoon, especially during red-zone drills, Roethlisberger was sharp with his passes, even the ones he didn't connect on. Included was a zinger over the middle to Hines Ward that hit the receiver's hands but fell incomplete.

HITS KEEP COMING: In a training camp featuring hard hits by last year's top-ranked defense, yesterday's practice featured more of the same. Prominent among the knockdowns was safety Ryan Clark flattening Isaac Redman as soon as the running back caught a swing pass.

GOOD IMPRESSION: Veteran wide receiver Shaun McDonald caught everything in sight during minicamps and voluntary practices. Then, training camp started and McDonald struggled a bit, including dropping a pass in the end zone during an early practice. However, McDonald has turned things around as he battles for the No. 3 receiver spot. He had a team-high six receptions against Arizona and followed that up with a nice touchdown grab yesterday in practice.

LOTS OF PASSES: Yesterday's practice featured an emphasis on the short passing game, particularly in the red zone and around the goal line.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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