Tuesday, August 14, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lawrence Timmons was back on the practice field yesterday. That's one small step for the Steelers' top rookie, but no giant leaps -- Timmons was limited in what he was permitted to do.
"Today was a non-contact day, just taking it light, that's all," Timmons said.
The linebacker put on the uniform and pads, however, which was something he had not done since July 27, when his groin was re-injured in a morning practice.
Timmons refuses to believe he has been set back by the injury, either mentally or physically.
"I never heard that from any coaches. I go to meetings just like everybody else, so I don't feel any dropoff. I'm still rehabbing. Just being on the field is the only thing."
Timmons got an injection to help with the swelling last week. The Steelers said he visited a doctor in Philadelphia for the treatment. Yesterday, they amended that to say it was a visit to Duke University in North Carolina after Timmons said he never made a trip to Philadelphia.
Coach Mike Tomlin said it was good to see Timmons back, even in a limited way.
"It's time to start marching back. We'll look at it day to day. I think the biggest thing is what he's capable of doing mentally and where he is from a conditioning standpoint. That's going to dictate how quickly he comes back."
Some special messages
Tomlin sent a few messages to his special teams. First, he signed a second long-snapper to compete with Greg Warren, then he added a live place-kicking protection drill to afternoon practice.
The drill lasted 12 plays, and there were no blocks, unlike Saturday night when Jeff Reed's extra-point attempt was blocked. Green Bay's Michael Montgomery bolted between Warren and right guard Chris Kemoeatu to block the kick. Warren, the team's long snapper the past two seasons, discovered competition for his job when he took the field yesterday.
The Steelers released rookie linebacker Matt King and re-signed rookie long snapper Jared Retkofsky. Retkofsky was released by the Steelers four days before training camp opened. Warren had been the only long snapper in training camp until Retkofsky was re-signed.
"We just wanted to get some competition in here," Tomlin said. "We're excited about taking a look at him to see where he is."
Tomlin refused to specifically blame Warren for the blocked kick, but the intent became obvious.
Retkofsky (6 feet 5, 260 pounds) played at TCU, where he was a reserve defensive lineman and the team's long snapper.
Tomlin called the kick protection a glaring weakness and said that is why he called for the extra practice time.
"The only way we're going to make it disappear is if we make it disappear, so we came out today with the attitude that that was going to be the period today. We were going to address that issue. It's not a short-term issue."
Offensive left tackle Marvel Smith "had some tightening in his back," Tomlin said. "We gave him a day off and protected him from that standpoint.
"Chris Hoke has a knee injury, not significant, thankfully. The MRI came back negative, but he's going to need some time. We'll see where he is later in the week. Chukky Okobi has got a rib injury similar to what [outside linebacker] James Harrison had. We'll continue to monitor him, see where he is later in the week. Maybe he can play; maybe he can't. Jerame Tuman has some discomfort in his back. We'll see where he is in the morning."
Offensive guard Alan Faneca (shoulder) returned after not practicing last week and missing the game Saturday night. Harrison (ribs) returned to practice. Running back Willie Parker (knee), held out of his second game, practiced.
Rookie defensive lineman Derrick Jones (calf) did not practice.
Ryan Clark, who gave way to Anthony Smith as the starter Saturday night, was back with the first team at free safety in practice.
Willie Colon continued to run with the first team at right offensive tackle. Max Starks played left tackle with Marvel Smith out.
Cornerback Deshea Townsend continued to run with the first-team defense ahead of Bryant McFadden, and offensive right guard Kendall Simmons stayed ahead of Chris Kemoeatu.
With Harrison back practicing with the first team at right outside linebacker, Clark Haggans moved back to the left side and rookie LaMarr Woodley ran behind Haggans.
Quote to note
Hines Ward, on trash-talking in the NFL: "Trash-talking is just trying to get into somebody's mind mentally and try to take them out of their game."