The Steelers' first two draft choices, linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, were injured on the first day of minicamp and may not practice the rest of the weekend.
Coach Mike Tomlin described both injuries as minor. He said the players will be re-examined this morning and there's a chance they could resume practice. Timmons, a first-round pick, has a groin injury and Woodley a hamstring injury.
Tomlin described the injuries as "typical -- rookies trying to make a first impression.''
He refused to label their possible absence from the rest of their first professional minicamp as much of a setback.
"We're not going to worry about short-term misery. We're not going to cut those guys or send them to the Hall of Fame this weekend. It's just short-term misery. We'll deal with it and move on."
Barlow has plans
Kevan Barlow sat in Duce Staley's old locker yesterday, wearing Staley's old number 22. He does not want to become the next Duce Staley, however, because he hopes to contribute for more than half a season.
Audio commentary from the Steelers following Friday's minicamp practice:
"I'm going to go out there and just try to play hard," Barlow said after his first minicamp practice with his third NFL team. "Go out and try to contribute, try to make this team a better football team, try to help Willie [Parker] get better and vice versa and try to go out there and lead by example."
Barlow might be the perfect third-down back for the Steelers, a job injured Verron Haynes held the past few years. Barlow caught 144 passes in five seasons with the 49ers and last season with the Jets -- 101 in his final three years in San Francisco.
He also is an adept blocker on pass protection, the most important job for a third-down back in the Steelers' offense. He developed a sense for it while watching Garrison Hearst do it in San Francisco and from coach Tom Rathman, who also did it so well during his playing days with the 49ers.
"I learned off one of the greatest guys ever -- Garrison Hearst. He was great at picking up the blitz. I saw his tempo and attitude. He set a standard for me that I tried to bring on my whole career."
Barlow, 28, played at Peabody High School and at Pitt. The 49ers drafted him in the third round in 2001 and traded him to the Jets last season for a fourth-round pick. The Jets released him in February for salary cap reasons.
"It's good, man. It's good to come home," Barlow said. "I grew up a Steelers fan -- Franco Harris, Barry Foster, Greg Lloyd. I grew up during that era and I know what Pittsburgh Steeler football is all about growing up here."
Polamalu wants to stay
Like Alan Faneca, strong safety Troy Polamalu has one year left on his contract and missed the first minicamp three weeks ago. That's about where the similarities end.
Polamalu explained to Tomlin that he wanted to miss the first minicamp because he had made a commitment to a church camp, and he said he's not worried about the progress of talks to extend his contract.
"Hopefully, it will all work out," Polamalu said. "Only God knows."
Polamalu signed a five-year contract after the Steelers drafted him with the 16th overall pick in 2003. He is scheduled to earn a salary of $1,088,000 in his final year plus another $1,722,000 in a reporting bonus.
He wants to stay.
"Definitely, I'd love to be here. This is home. I live here year-round. I don't think I have to make a case for that."