Santonio Holmes had a slight setback yesterday when the rookie receiver did not finish practice because of a hamstring injury.
Holmes and coach Bill Cowher said the hamstring first was injured while the first-round draft pick worked out in Pittsburgh in June. Holmes went through all the running tests Saturday and a full practice Sunday but did not finish yesterday afternoon.
"It's the same one he hurt while training in Pittsburgh," Cowher said. "We don't think it's too bad; it's day to day."
Said Holmes, "We just decided to take a precautionary measure and not push it too much on the second day of camp."
As it is, Holmes is trying to catch up on the work he missed in the spring drills. He did stay 30 minutes after practice to catch passes spun out of a portable machine on the field, as Hines Ward watched.
"I talked to Hines and he told me to catch about 50 balls after practice if you don't catch enough in practice," Holmes said. "I caught about 70. I'm just trying to stay in shape and trying to catch the ball from different angles."
Ward has taken a key interest in Holmes.
"Every little thing I do, whether it's right or wrong, he's always there to correct me, tell me to keep working on this or that was a great job making a catch here or a move here and there," Holmes said. "Just a lot of little things that a great receiver will do to help young guys. Just teach them all the things he's learned."
No. 3 receiver
For now, at least, Nate Washington has been running as the No. 3 receiver behind Ward and split end Cedrick Wilson.
Washington made the team as an undrated rookie last season from Tiffin. He rarely dressed for a game and did not catch a pass until a crucial opportunity came in the AFC championship at Denver.
Washington tipped away what would have been an interception in the end zone and, in the same series, caught a crucial 13-yard pass on third down that kept a scoring drive alive.
"You can see the confidence and his understanding and the way he carries himself on the field," Cowher said. "He's a guy we piled a lot on and he did a lot of good things for us last year."
Halfback Verron Haynes decided to return for his fifth season with the Steelers rather than sign as an unrestricted free agent elsewhere, even though Willie Parker has the starting job nailed down.
Haynes wants to win the old Jerome Bettis job behind Parker while also keeping his role as third-down back. He's competing with Duce Staley for the former and looking forward to the summer's first live action, tomorrow night at Latrobe High School.
"I think I'm getting used well," Haynes said. "Obviously it was a big concern coming back with me getting an opportunity to showcase what I could do. Wednesday night will be the first opportunity to show that in goal line."
The weather played havoc with the Steelers' practice schedule yesterday. What was supposed to be the first double practice of the summer, turned into a short walk-through in the gym in the morning.
Heavy rains the past few days, including overnight, made the fields too squishy for practice in the morning.
Then, Cowher canceled conditioning drills planned following the afternoon practice because of the 97-degree heat index.
"It really wasn't that bad out there," Cowher said. "We'll get a couple more days of this [heat]. The first three days are very, very important. They've done a good job of hydrating. ... These guys came in pretty good shape. There's not one guy who didn't come in at the proper weight."
A popular question in the first week of training camp has been whether or not the Steelers are as hungry as they were last summer, even though they have the same caterer at Saint Vincent College.
All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu labeled the hunger theory a myth.
"I don't know if it was even a hunger last year," Polamalu said. "We came in here and had fun doing what we do. We practiced, we had fun practicing, we had fun hanging out with each other.
"It's no different whether we're out there and Joey [Porter] and Verron are talking back to each other and laughing and competing. It's the same thing in our meeting rooms."
Backup defensive end Travis Kirschke (back) did not practice, nor did fullback Dan Kreider (foot). ... The Steelers re-signed former Pitt linebacker Malcom Postell, whom they released June 14. Postell, a two-year starter at Pitt, did not play last season but played in NFL Europe for the Berlin Thunder.