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Insider Only Monday’s Steelers Camp Buzz


By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — After a mistake-riddled preseason-opening loss to the New York Giants Saturday night, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had his club back on the field for a teaching practice Monday afternoon.
The training camp session didn’t feature as much hitting as the previous week, but a lot got accomplished the first day back at Saint Vincent College. The second preseason game is against the Washington Redskins Aug. 19.
“The big point of emphasis for us was getting back to Steelers against Steelers,” Tomlin said. “The Redskins game is miles away from a preseason standpoint. So, we wanted to put the focus back on us against us and develop fundamentals and skill.
“I liked their approach to it today. Unfortunately, I have to give them another day off (Tuesday), in this new collective bargaining agreement, but we’ll deal with that. Then, we’ll get them back out here Wednesday (for a night practice) and continue with the process.”
Back in Action
Several players returned from injuries that have sidelined them the entire camp. Defensive end Nick Williams, the seventh-round pick this year, had been sidelined with a left knee injury since early in camp. Another player returning from a lengthy injury was cornerback Terry Hawthorne, a sixth-round pick. He had right knee surgery in the spring and re-aggravated it the first day at camp.
“There were a number of guys working their way back from injury, (and) that’s encouraging, because they don’t have a chance to make the team if they’re not on the field,” Tomlin said. “So, good for them. We also have a number of guys who are out for various reasons.”
2 More Surgeries
Tight end Matt Spaeth and wideout Plaxico Burress had surgery to repair their injuries. Spaeth suffered a Lisfranc (midfoot) injury, while Burress had a torn rotator cuff. Both are potentially season-ending injuries, but that has not yet been determined.

Spaeth’s surgery went well, but, honestly, I haven’t seen a surgery that didn’t go that way,” Tomlin said. “At this juncture, we’ll keep him alive and see what the time table is for him. We’ll probably get a little more clarity in that over the next couple of weeks.”
Former Steelers running back Duce Staley had a Lisfranc injury when he was with the Eagles. Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot. It is a severe injury that could take months to heal after surgery.
“Plaxico Burress had surgery (Monday) at 8 a.m.,” Tomlin added. “I don’t have an update with regard to that. Justin Cheadle got hurt during practice, and he’s being evaluated right now. And Steve McLendon has been excused by me for personal reasons.”
Cheadle appeared to suffer a right knee injury. He had to be taken from the field in a chart. Tomlin said that while the early thought is that Burress will be done for the season, Tomlin said he will “always hold my thoughts and feelings until I get the word from the surgeons, (and) I haven’t got that yet.”
McLendon played just a few snaps Saturday night, and he was replaced by Alameda Ta’amu. Al Woods also got some reps at nose tackle in practice. Woods played exclusively at left end against the Giants.
“One man’s misfortune creates an opportunity for others, and hopefully those guys will utilize their opportunity for good, particularly Al Woods,” Tomlin said. “Here’s a guy who has been working at end. We’ve had some short lines due to injury and so forth.
“We’ve got Nick Williams back, and that has allowed him to move Al inside to show what he’s capable of. He’s a big-body guy. He’s performing well, but we want him to add value to his cause and ours with position flexibility. Alameda, we haven’t seen much yet due to his injury.”
Ta’amu began camp on the PUP List, but he returned to practice last week.
Walking, but Still Wounded
The three amigos, er, cornerbacks, were still on the sideline. Cortez Allen (right knee), Curtis Brown (left hamstring, ankle) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) don’t appear to be much closer to being ready to practice.
Offensive guard Chris Hubbard (right ankle) and inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (right ankle) were also sidelined.
Hair-Razing Experience

After going with dreadlocks for a hairstyle the past few years, cornerback Will Gay has shaved them. It used to be easy to pick Gay out from a group of Steelers cornerbacks, but several new players also have dreads, including wideout Markus Wheaton. And his tips are dyed. Gay must have decided it was time for a change.
He has been a steady starter at left corner with Cortez Allen out of the lineup.

About The Author

Dale Grdnic

TIOPS Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Grdnic is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Football. Dale has covered the Pittsburgh Sports scene for over 15 years with various publications

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