Steelers Notebook: Hampton no longer PUP, back in pads
Ben Roethlisberger pays tribute to injured quarterback Charlie Batch yesterday at training camp at Saint Vincent College.
Byron Leftwich drops back to pass in throwing drills.
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Some termed Casey Hampton's two-week absence from training camp practice a "punishment."
Hampton had another word to describe it.
"I definitely think it benefited me," said Hampton, who turns 31 next month. "I don't see it as a negative. I'm not a big fan of the preseason and all that banging and stuff anyway for older guys."
The big nose tackle came off the physically unable to perform list Sunday after spending the first two weeks getting into shape. He went on the list July 27 when head coach Mike Tomlin would not permit Hampton to finish the run test because his coach said he was overweight and out of shape.
Hampton did plenty of running and riding a stationary bike the past two weeks and did not miss the pounding of the pads on the practice field.
"We know how to play football, being an older guy and being in the same system for this long period of time," Hampton said. "It saved me a little bit, but it's time to go, it's time to get out there and go to work with my teammates and I'm ready."
He said there were no hard feelings for the action Tomlin took, and he expects to play Thursday against Buffalo in Toronto.
"Coach made a decision and he's the coach. I'm here to help this team win; I'm willing to do that any way I can, and whatever's asked of me, I'll do it."
Said Tomlin: "As of right now, it looks like he's knocking the rust off pretty quickly. We anticipate him participating on Thursday unless he has a setback."
Trai Essex has been almost overlooked in his first three seasons since the Steelers drafted him in the third round in 2005 from Northwestern.
He wants to make No. 4 special.
"I just came into this year with a different focus," said Essex. "This is my year. I have a one-year contract so I have to prove to the coaches I can handle whatever they give me."
He will become an unrestricted free agent after the season if he does not sign a new contract.
Essex has started five games at left or right tackle because of injuries, including last year's playoff against Jacksonville. However, he played in just three games last season as he slipped to the No. 4 tackle on the team.
This year could be different. He's playing guard and tackle now, and that could prompt the coaches to make him one of the two or three backup linemen on game days.
"You can't dress a backup at every position because of all the numbers," Essex said of the roster limit of 45 for games. "Having a guy who can play more than one position helps out a lot, so it helps me.
"It's not money. I want to play. This is my fourth year. I've been a spot guy for three years. I just want to play."
Troy Polamalu went to practice yesterday and followed the same routine. He ran a little, watched a lot and iced down his hamstring.
The Pro Bowl strong safety remains on the PUP list because of the pulled hamstring that prevented him from running all-out in the first conditioning test of training camp. It appears he will miss the second preseason game Thursday night.
Tomlin, asked if Polamalu was getting any closer to practicing, said, "I assume he is, but when that will occur I don't know at this point."
Rookie safety Ryan Mundy, who played at Woodland Hills High School and West Virginia, put in a good bid to make the 53-man roster until he was waylaid by a high ankle sprain Friday night.
He could miss the next three preseason games, which means the coaching staff must determine if he showed enough in the first two weeks of training camp to earn a spot on the roster.
"I would think so, but you never know in this business," Mundy said.
He claimed his injury came on a cheap shot by Philadelphia guard Max Jean-Gilles. "It was definitely after the play. I made the tackle, I'm getting up and my knee was still bent and the guy just came in and hit me. ... Most definitely a cheap shot. The play was well over."
Quarterback Charlie Batch had surgery yesterday to repair his broken right collarbone. ... Defensive lineman Kyle Clement has a sprained knee and is out indefinitely. ... Linebacker Mike Humpal missed practice with a stinger. ... Cornerback Deshea Townsend was held out with a minor groin injury but he should return today. ... Linebacker James Harrison was held out of the afternoon practice because he had some swelling after he was kicked in the shin in the morning drills. ... Tomlin said punter Daniel Sepulveda's surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament went well. "It's less about the surgery and more about the rehabilitation at this point."
First Published August 12, 2008 12:00 am