The Steelers were without two of their starters yesterday when they returned to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, including Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca.
Faneca sustained "shoulder difficulties? in the opening preseason victory Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, said coach Mike Tomlin, and was held out of practice for precautionary reasons.
Same with inside linebacker Larry Foote (sprained ankle).
Quarterback Brian St. Pierre also did not practice because of swelling in his right thumb. St. Pierre injured his throwing hand against the Saints.
"We're just being cautious with some of these guys," Tomlin said. "It's a long training camp."
Outside linebackers James Harrison (ribs) and Lawrence Timmons (groin), the team's first-round draft pick, remain out and continue to be listed day to day.
Timmons has been out nearly two weeks.
Woodley still learning
Timmons' absence has been eased by the play of another rookie outside linebacker, LaMarr Woodley, the team's second-round draft pick.
Woodley continues to work with the first-team defense at left outside linebacker while Clark Haggans replaces Harrison on the right side. And he impressed the coaches with a diving pass breakup against the Saints because those are the kinds of play he is not accustomed to making.
"I didn't do it that much [at Michigan]; I guess that's why I didn't catch it," said Woodley, a defensive end in college. "I knocked it down. That's what I'm used to doing. You get close to the ball, you try to knock it down. I had an opportunity to put the other hand around it, but I just didn't do it."
Saved by the rain
Tomlin has been shortening several afternoon practices because the team has an extra week of training camp and five preseason games.
But the practice yesterday -- the first since the victory against the Saints -- ended 35 minutes early for an unplanned reason: A rain and lightning storm that was preceded by whipping winds.
The players were off Monday, their first off day since reporting to training camp July 23. None of the veteran players had gone that long without an off day.
Under Bill Cowher, the players were given Saturday night and Sunday off during training camp. But, according to NFL Players Association rules, a coach is not required to give the players an off day until the team participates in a preseason game.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero visited training camp as a guest of director of football operations Kevin Colbert, a big hockey fan. Shero said he wanted to see how a camp with 85 players is conducted compared to camp with 45, which is the approximate number of players expected to participate in the Penguins' training camp that begins in early September.
But, at least, Shero doesn't have to worry about his center.
Running back Carey Davis, a first-year free agent, enhanced his bid to make the team with his performance against the Saints, rushing for 68 yards on seven carries with the aid of a 56-yard run in the second half. Davis has done it all in his first two weeks -- run, catch and block -- and the coaches like what they see. He will get more playing time against the Green Bay Packers Saturday night at Heinz Field.
It might not happen against the Packers, but the Steelers will break out their no-huddle offense soon in a preseason game. The Steelers also used it last season in the preseason, ironically against the Minnesota Vikings when Tomlin was their defensive coordinator.
Rookie cornerback William Gay, who had a big hit and interception against the Saints, wowed the training-camp crowd with a diving interception in an 11-on-11 drill.
The second-biggest cheer came when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected on a deep pass with wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who caught a touchdown pass against the Saints.
The Steelers will practice twice today. The 2:55 p.m. session is open to the public.