Steelers starters to play 'a couple series' Thursday

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Coach Mike Tomlin said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the other starters will probably only play a "couple series" Thursday night when the Steelers open their preseason against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field.

Tomlin also refused to rule out any player from the game, though he said it is understood that guard Darnell Stapleton, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, will not play.

If center Justin Hartwig does not play, as expected, Tomlin said first-year free-agent center Doug Legursky will start.

"More than anything, I'm just concerned about coming out and playing the game extremely fast, extremely hard," Tomlin said this morning at a news conference at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. "We realize we're not going to be perfect. But we have to have Steelers-type tempo."

Then he added, "You want people to play with great tempo and speed. You use some core stuff that they're familiar with. We're not interested in tricking Arizona."

The Steelers took two return specialists in the April draft -- wide receiver Mike Wallace in the third round and cornerback Joe Burnett in the fifth round -- and they each will get a chance to return kicks against the Cardinals. Tomlin said Wallace, the second-fastest receive in the draft, will return the first kickoff and Burnett will return the first punt.

Gerry Dulac can be reached at .


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