As "The Sopranos" enters its final stages as a series on HBO, could Ben Roethlisberger be ready to pick up the slack for Meadow Soprano?
Following up on a rumor, someone asked the Steelers' quarterback yesterday if he were dating actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who plays mobster Tony Soprano's daughter on the TV show.
"No," Roethlisberger said. "She's got a boyfriend. We just did a photo shoot together."
He did not elaborate. Roethlisberger also did not leap at the chance to pull a touche on teammate Alan Faneca. The six-time Pro Bowl guard once reacted incredulously to a question posed to him after quarterback Tommy Maddox's right elbow was injured in the second game of the 2004 season.
Faneca was asked if he was excited to see Roethlisberger, then a rookie first-round draft choice, play. Faneca said he was not excited about going into a game with "some little young kid who's just out of college."
Yesterday, after Faneca skipped the morning drill, Roethlisberger was asked if he were excited about playing with young Chris Kemoeatu at left guard. The quarterback did not take the bait.
"Well, you know what -- Chris, if it's his time to get called, then I know he'll step up and play well," Roethlisberger answered. "I think Alan's the best guard in the game and I can't wait for him to protect me this year."
The quarterback was asked to compare his new coach, Mike Tomlin, to his former coach, Bill Cowher.
"Well, coach Cowher, like I said, I was only here a couple years with him, and he was 'The Chin.' He wasn't that for no reason. He was a Hall of Fame coach, and it was a great honor to be able to play for him."
Arnold Harrison healthy again
Arnold Harrison celebrated the six-month anniversary of his knee surgery by doing everything an outside linebacker is supposed to do on a minicamp practice field.
"Six months to the day!" Harrison proclaimed. "That's real good, to practice full after six months."
Harrison had surgery to repair a torn ACL Nov. 10, and he became the Steelers' only backup outside linebacker with any experience when they released Joey Porter in March. Now, he'll have to fight for his roster spot after they made their top two draft choices outside linebackers, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.
"All I can do is worry about me, work as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may," Harrison said. "I feel good and I guarantee I'll be 100 percent for training camp."
Timmons, Woodley watch
Timmons, like Tomlin the day before, did not view his groin injury from the first day of practice as much of a setback.
"I think it's good for me to sit back and look at the defense," the rookie said. "I'm not going to take it as a disappointment."
He and Woodley, who injured his hamstring on the first day, did not practice yesterday and likely will not do so in the final session of minicamp today.
"It feels good now, but I'm going to still give it some rest," Timmons said. "I'll be all right."
This could hurt? No
Rookie Daniel Sepulveda launched several of his "Aussie roll" punts yesterday, although none hit the ground. Each was caught by a punt-returner.
Sepulveda copied a technique seen from some Australian punters whereby he drops the point of the ball on his foot and kicks it more end over end like a kickoff. The idea is to do it so that if it lands beyond the goal line, it will bounce back, presumably to where the punting team can down it inside the 10 or so. But -- ouch -- kicking the point of the football?
"No,'' Sepulveda said, "It just misses. I'm just on the inside of my foot."
He also put his left foot to the ball to send it rocketing more than 60 yards a few times with good hang time.
"He better, you know?" Tomlin said. "He's got that reputation. But we say on a daily basis that reputations and resumes mean very little. They got to do it on a daily basis and earn it, and I think he's prepared to do that. He did get off a few impressive ones, but not unlike what we expect."
Running back Kevan Barlow's right ankle was injured in the morning drills, and he missed the rest of the day's practices. ... Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who injured his shoulder slightly Friday, has a minor hamstring injury. ... Cornerback Bryant McFadden has sore ribs after a collision.