Steelers Notebook: Punter handling kickoffs

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Punter Daniel Sepulveda will kick off for the first time in a game when the Steelers play the New York Giants Saturday night.

Coach Mike Tomlin has been content with Sepulveda's kickoffs in training camp, including more Tuesday afternoon.

Jeff Reed has handled all the kickoffs since he signed with the Steelers in 2002.

"I was very impressed with him, not only from a distance but the appropriate hang time and ball placement on the field horizontally," Tomlin said of Sepulveda's kickoffs. "He has got a skill that lends itself to potentially help us in that area.

"We were prepared to explore it last year but we put the brakes on it because he was coming off a knee injury and we didn't know how that double duty would wear on him over the course of a football season. So he's a viable candidate in that area at the very least to potentially share the duties with Jeff. So we got capable guys in that area and we believe that will make us better."

Hartwig not conceding

What will the Steelers do with Justin Hartwig if rookie Maurkice Pouncey takes his job at center?

Hartwig's salary for 2010 is $2,080,000, and while there is no salary cap this year, that's real money that can be put toward someone's signing bonus. However, the Steelers have designs on winning another Super Bowl and they will have to weigh whether having Hartwig as a veteran reserve is more valuable to them than keeping someone else.

Hartwig, their starter the past two seasons, is not yet ready to concede to Pouncey.

"I've been playing football for a long time and I've worked my butt off and I do my job every day," Hartwig said, "and that's not going to change based on somebody pushing me for my starting spot. I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing and everything will play itself out."

There's a misconception about Hartwig possibly moving to guard if Pouncey becomes the center. Hartwig has not played guard since his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans in 2002. He did practice it for one week with the Carolina Panthers, but has not played it with the Steelers.

Could he play guard if the Steelers asked him to.

"Ummm, I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals," Hartwig said.

Quick hits

Tomlin confirmed what coordinator Bruce Arians revealed Monday: Ben Roethlisberger would play against the Giants. He would not say what the quarterback rotation would be on Saturday night. ... Defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) returned for a full practice. Defensive lineman Steve McClendon (knee) and running back Jonathan Dwyer (shoulder) did not practice again. ... Rookie Antonio Brown split time as the deep man with Stefan Logan on kickoffs in practice. ... The final public practice of training camp will be from 3-5 p.m. today.


For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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