By Mike Bires
LATROBE _ Always the prankster, Jeff Reed pulled a trick on his teammates Thursday morning.
Out of his own pocket, he paid for five yellow school busses to pull up to the St Vincent College athletic fields just as practice began.
The Steelers thought they were going to the movies.
Occasionally in past years, ex-coach Bill Cowher and current coach Mike Tomlin would excuse the team from a morning practice late in training camp asa reward for their hard work.
Instead of working out, they were bussed to a nearby theater where they would watch a movie and munch on popcorn.
But this year, Tomlin had no plans for a “movie day.”
When Reed learned on Tomlin’s intentions, he schemed up an idea to have the busses pull onto campus. That way, the Steelers would get all excited about going to the movies, only to be disappointed when Tomlin didn’t stop practice.
“I was so excited. I was like a little kid,” running back Willie Parker said. “As soon as I saw the buses I thought we were going to the movies.”
A few players, however, didn’t fall for the hoax.
“I doubted that it was happening,” running back Rashard Mendenhall said. “I knew it was a work day.”
Reed said he first ran his scheme past Tomlin, who approved.
“He was laughing. He thought it was hilarious,” Reed said.
“That was a good joke,” Parker said.
LOGAN UP NEXT AS RETURN SPECIALIST
On Saturday, Stefan Logan gets his chance to prove he can return kicks in the NFL.
He’s first up on kickoff and punt returns in the Steelers’ preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
“He is a guy who distinguished himself in the CFL,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “You know that it is no secret that we are looking for guys who have some return capabilities. He fits that bill.”
Last year, Logan played running back and returned kicks in the Canadian Football League. He played well enough for the British Columbia Lions that the Steelers signed him during the off-season.
Logan, who’s only 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds, is now playing wide receiver for the Steelers.
His only chance of making the team is it he excels as a return specialist.
“Last week we looked at (wide receiver) Mike Wallace as a kick returner and (cornerback) Joe Burnett as a punt returner,” Tomlin said. “This week is Stefan’s turn, and we will see what next week holds for us.”
VETS GET MORNING OFF
As has been the case all camp, several of the veterans were excused from the Thursday morning practice.
Wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, defensive ends Aaron Smith and Travis Kirschke, linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison and strong safety Troy Polamalu only watched.
LOOKING AHEAD TO SATURDAY
Tomlin said he has yet to scratch anyone from Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins due to injuries.
However, running back Mewelde Moore said he will not play even though he returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out since Aug. 4 with an injured hamstring.
Meanwhile, Tomlin said that his starters will probably play a quarter pending “circumstances of the game” and “what happens early on.”
Saturday’s kickoff at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., is at 7:30 p.m.
The game will be televised locally on KDKA-TV and FSN Pittsburgh.