Steelers Notebook: Kemoeatu returns to practice field; 9 players held out
Faneca's replacement makes first appearance
August 5, 2008 4:00 AM
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
Steelers lineman Chris Kemoeatu returns to workouts with a large brace on his left triceps for the afternoon practice yesterday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With so many players standing on the sideline with injuries, the Steelers were glad to take an injured player from the sideline and welcome him back to the practice field.
Chris Kemoeatu, the heir apparent to Alan Faneca's starting left guard position, was taken off the physically unable to perform list and practiced with his teammates yesterday for the first time since training camp began.
Kemoeatu practiced wearing a protective brace on his left triceps and said his arm felt fine after a 90-minute afternoon practice.
"It was good," Kemoeatu said. "I'm glad practice was short [because] I still got to get in some cardio and get in shape. Other than that, I felt good. I felt out of whack from not being out there, but give it a couple days."
Kemoeatu was injured shortly before reporting to training camp when he was running steps in a workout with his brother at home in Hawaii. Kemoeatu said he tripped on one of the steps and landed on his elbow against a railing.
Kemoeatu said the brace, which arrived at training camp yesterday morning, prevents his elbow from locking.
"It's not so much the arm [that bothers me]," he said. "I just haven't been setting and hitting anyone or putting a lot of pressure on it. As far as the pain, it feels OK."
Injuries and more injuries
Nine players, including five starters, did not practice because of injuries that coach Mike Tomlin said were day to day.
The starters were Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison (groin), cornerback Deshea Townsend (groin), defensive end Brett Keisel (groin), guard Kendall Simmons (shoulder) and left tackle Marvel Smith (back). Tomlin said Simmons and Smith sat out for precautionary reasons and should practice today.
The list does not include quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (groin), who did not participate in the morning workout and was limited for a third day in a row in the afternoon. Roethlisberger did not take part in team drills and threw only in 7 on 7.
Afterward, when asked about the injury, Roethlisberger playfully said, "What injury? I don't know what you're talking about." Players, especially key ones such as Roethlisberger, are instructed by Tomlin not to discuss injuries with the media.
Also missing practice were wide receiver Limas Sweed (hamstring), linebacker Mike Humpal (hamstring), tight end Dezmond Sherrod (neck) and linebacker Anthony Trucks (back).
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley returned to practice after missing the past two days with a groin injury.
Casey Hampton said he doesn't know how much weight he has shed because he hasn't been on a scale since being placed on the physically unable to perform list for reporting overweight.
"I don't really get on a scale," Hampton said yesterday after another morning workout session with conditioning assistant Marcel Pastoor. "That's not my thing. I play ball. That's my thing. Weight really don't matter to me. My thing is being in condition. As long as I'm in shape, it don't matter."
But it matters to Tomlin, who was angry when Hampton, a four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle, showed up at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe nearly 40 pounds overweight. Tomlin was upset -- and still is -- because he warned Hampton about his weight and told him he would place him on the PUP list if he didn't conform.
Tomlin said yesterday he doesn't know when Hampton will be allowed to practice.
"I don't think it's about weight," said Hampton, who is listed at 325 pounds. "I can play heavy. It's just about getting in shape.
"I'm out there to try and get right and get ready for [the season opener on] Sept. 7. That's my main goal -- to be ready to play. I've been in this league a long time. Preseason, that's more for young guys anyway. It doesn't really matter.
"I can play anytime. It don't matter to me. I always feel like I can play. That's coach's decision."
Hines Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, said Hampton's situation is not a distraction to the team.
"As long as we have him opening day, we're fine," Ward said. "I don't care about camp. He's the heart and head man in that defense. He plays two or three plays, and he comes out on third down, anyway. I'm not concerned about Casey. He'll be all right when it's time to go."
One of the rookie standouts in training camp has been cornerback Roy Lewis, an undrafted free agent from Washington.
Tomlin thought he was a standout in the goal-line drill Sunday because of his physical style. And Lewis (5 feet 10, 190 pounds) followed that by breaking up passes for wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Heath Miller in the morning practice yesterday.
"I like the way Roy Lewis showed up in the goal-line drill; he showed up very nice," Tomlin said. "A guy in his position, showing that capability of being physical, is a window of what he's potentially capable of doing."
Former Pro Bowl return man Eddie Drummond, signed last week to improve special teams, did not look the part in the morning. Getting ready to field a punt, Drummond slipped and fell to the ground as the ball ricocheted off his body.