By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Labor strife has ended, and 90-man rosters are set, for now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers hit the field about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, 90 minutes later than usual, and got final word that the new CBA was ratified close to 5 p.m. That’s when 15 veterans could put on their full gear and join the practice.
“They didn’t miss much,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “They got the official word right at stretch, which was exactly how I planned it. It was an unusual day for everyone, but we don’t worry about those things. (So), it was good to have our 90-some guys out there on the field today.”
Chris Hoke, as usual, led the charge onto the field for the opening drill and was happy to oblige after a week on the sidelines.
“It was great,” Hoke said. “It was like we weren’t part of the team, but now we are. It’s great that we can all work together now to get ready for this season.”
The starting offensive line included Jonathan Scott at left tackle, Doug Legursky at left guard, Maurkice Pouncey at center, Ramon Foster at right guard and Willie Colon at right tackle. Foster also played left guard, while Chris Scott — the right tackle during the first week — also played right guard.
The second-team offensive line included Tony Hills at left tackle, Keith Williams at left guard, Doug Legursky at center, Chris Scott at right guard and Kyle Jolly at right tackle after starting at left tackle throughout the opening week.
Ben Roethlisberger, obviously, was the starting quarterback with Rashard Mendenhall at running back. Heath Miller started at tight end, while Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Arnaz Battle were the top three wideouts.
Defensively, Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel were on the line from left to right. The linebacking corps also was intact with LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior.
And in the secondary, Ike Taylor was back at right cornerback, while Ryan Clark was the free safety. William Gay opened at left cornerback for injured Bryant McFadden, while Ryan Mundy was the strong safety for Troy Polamalu. First-year cornerback Donovan Warren was the fifth DB in passing situations.
The walking wounded again included CB Keenan Lewis, migraine headaches; WR Adam Mims, quad strain; CB Cortez Allen, hamstring; CB Crezdon Butler, quad; CB McFadden, hamstring; OT Marcus Gilbert, right knee; OG Chris Kemoeatu (left knee) and S Polamalu, who got another day off.
McFadden, Butler and Allen all worked with trainer Ryan Grove on ladder agility drills, while Kemoeatu took instruction from head trainer John Norwig.
A referee crew will be in camp for the next couple days. They monitored Thursday’s practice and will do the same Friday night at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Friday afternoon, the group will conduct a seminar on rule changes.
Since the Steelers officially signed their six unrestricted free agents and one restricted, several players had to be released. Gay, Hoke, Moore and punter Daniel Sepulveda all signed one-year deals.
Tight end John Gilmore signed a one-year contract after spending the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Long-snapper Greg Warren, also an unrestricted free agent, signed a two-year deal. And quarterback Dennis Dixon, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year agreement.
To make room on their roster, the Steelers released offensive tackle Joshua Harrison, quarterback Chris Dieker, long-snapper Derek Chard and punter Aaron Bates. The team also placed offensive lineman Dorian Brooks on the Exempt-Left Squad List and linebacker Erik Clanton on the Waived-Injured List.
The 90th player on the roster is offensive guard John Malecki, a Pitt and Franklin Regional High School product, who originally was signed by Tennessee as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He also spent time on Cleveland’s and Tampa Bay’s practice squads and will wear No. 77 with the Steelers.
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