Steelers Notebook: Mahan gets backup swing role on line

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Sean Mahan was back at practice yesterday, one day after being informed that Justin Hartwig had beaten him out as the starting center.

Mahan, a six-year veteran out of Notre Dame, expressed disappointment about losing the job he held for one season.

"It's tough," he said. "It's obviously not what I wanted. But you just have to go with it, keep getting prepared just like you do when you play every week."

Coach Mike Tomlin said Mahan will take some repetitions at guard in addition to center. Either Mahan or Darnell Stapleton will be the backup at center and guard on game days.

"He's a guy who has position flexibility as a center and guard," Tomlin said of Mahan. "We'll explore him playing some guard. More than anything, he's a guy we're capable of winning with if we have to call on him. And there's comfort in that."

Mahan started games at center and at guard in his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2003-06.

"I need to be able to fill in and play any inside position if need be," Mahan said. "I definitely need some reps because I haven't had any guard reps in more than a year."

Quarterback issue

One of the crucial decisions the Steelers must make is how many quarterbacks will be kept on the roster. Charlie Batch is out for another few weeks following surgery for a broken collarbone. Byron Leftwich was signed after Batch's injury, and the Steelers invested a fifth-round draft pick in Dennis Dixon to develop him as a backup.

"We'll cross that bridge after this performance," Tomlin said. "That's a decision we have to make at an appropriate time, and I think we have to gather all of the information based on the quality of play and the health of Charlie. We'll hold our cards until necessary as far as that."

Injury update

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) and linebacker James Harrison (shoulder) returned to practice after skipping Monday's workout with minor injuries. Safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring) practiced for the second day in a row with the first-team defense.

Roster move

The Steelers got down to the NFL maximum of 76 players yesterday by placing tight end Cody Boyd on the waived/injured list, which means they could re-sign him after he recovers from a shoulder injury.

Boyd was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in May 2007. He was released and spent a portion of the 2007 season with the Washington Redskins. Boyd was re-signed by the Steelers earlier this year.



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