Steelers Notebook: Drummond joins team, gets shot as return man
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The Steelers acquired a return man late in the game for the second consecutive year, only this time they did not have to use a draft pick to get him.
East Liberty native Eddie Drummond signed with the Steelers yesterday and was returning punts in practice at Saint Vincent College by the afternoon.
Drummond, 28, believes he can again become what he once was, among the best kick- and punt-return men in the NFL.
"Definitely," he said. "I think I'm peaking right now. I feel like when I was in my Pro Bowl year, and being on a team like this will make a big difference."
Drummond, undrafted out of Penn State, made the Lions in 2002, but has not been the same since he made the Pro Bowl with Detroit in 2004. That season, he had four touchdown returns, two punts and two kickoffs. He averaged 13.2 yards a punt return and 26.6 on kickoffs.
He has not scored a touchdown since. He signed a one-year contract as a free agent with Kansas City last year and averaged just 6.9 yards on 32 punt returns and 21.2 on 37 kickoff returns.
He has been a free agent since March.
"It's understandable," Drummond said of his status until yesterday. "With the whole season we had with Kansas City, that's why they're making so many changes there."
He said injuries also have dogged him, and he believes he is in tip-top shape and ready to make a comeback in his hometown.
"I always grew up being a Steelers fan. Even when I was in Detroit, they were in the Super Bowl. I was at the game going crazy, like a No. 1 Steelers fan. ... Hopefully, I can end my career here."
In September, the Steelers sent Atlanta their seventh-round draft choice in 2008 for return man Allen Rossum, and they released him early this year after a poor season.
For the second consecutive year, a Pittsburgh native associated with the Steelers is headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a writer.
ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, who grew up in Bloomfield, will be honored with the Dick McCann Award tonight at the Hall of Fame dinner in Canton, Ohio. The award is given annually by the Pro Football Writers Association in honor of distinguished service.
Pasquarelli, who lives in Atlanta, will receive his award at the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner in Canton, Ohio, this summer.
Last year, ESPN's John Clayton, a Pittsburgh native and former Pittsburgh Press sports writer who covered the Steelers in the 1970s and '80s, earned the McCann Award.
Pasquarelli, a graduate of Central Catholic and Pitt, was a teacher and part-time newspaper writer before he became editor of the old Steelers Weekly in 1978. After working for numerous publications, he joined ESPN.com in 2001.
Pasquarelli's dedication to his profession showed dramatically in February when, physically ill, he participated in a morning-long Pro Football Hall of Fame voting session the day before the Super Bowl, then wrote his column, and only then checked into a Phoenix hospital emergency room, where he immediately had quintuple bypass heart surgery.
Longtime Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope would love this one -- they still have a parking spot reserved for him next to Saint Benedict Hall at Saint Vincent College for training camp.
Cope, who died Feb. 27 at age 79, had been retired from his job as colorman since after the 2004 season and had not been to camp since then.
Cope's is among a handful of parking spaces reserved for Steelers executives such as Dan Rooney, Art Rooney and Kevin Colbert. The sign, in black and gold, reads simply "Reserved Parking For: Myron Cope." It likely is someone's way to erect a small memorial to the legendary, late broadcaster.
Next to Cope's reserved parking spot is one for another legend who still works for the Steelers. Joe Greene is a special assistant for colleges and pros on the Steelers' scouting staff. He was Chuck Noll's first draft pick, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was voted the best player in Steelers history.
His sign reads "Reserved Parking For: Joe Green." Someone later wrote in the "e" with a black marker.
Tall offensive tackle Jason Capizzi encountered another, familiar setback in his quest to make his hometown team.
Capizzi has a stress fracture on his left foot, the same injury he had earlier this year while training. Coach Mike Tomlin said he will have surgery, and that likely will end his season.
Capizzi (6-9, 330) signed with the Steelers last year as an undrafted free agent from IUP. The Gibsonia native, who started his college career at Pitt, was released on the Steelers' final cut and spent time last season on three practice squads.
Punter Scott Player, 38, worked out for the Steelers Wednesday in Latrobe. He has been with five teams since 1996. New England cut him in June. ... Veteran defensive end Travis Kirschke was given the day off. ... Safety Anthony Smith (groin) tried to practice and could not, so he might be out longer than expected.
First Published August 1, 2008 12:00 am