Steelers Notebook: LeBeau is happy to be 'home'
Fresh off his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talks with James Farrior.
Larry Foote works out during training camp Monday in Latrobe.
Ben Roethlisberger scrambles during drills Monday.
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Saying he couldn't wait to get back "home," defensive coordinator and new Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau returned to training camp Monday afternoon, getting hugs from players and loud cheers from fans as he walked onto the practice field.
"I wasn't going to stay away any longer," LeBeau said. "I came back home. This is my family. That's what it's like for me."
LeBeau has been gone since Thursday because of all the festivities surrounding his formal induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night in Canton, Ohio -- a ceremony attended by all the players and coaches.
But, after three days of pomp and circumstance, LeBeau said it is time to get back to work.
"I enjoyed floating and I was worried about it for a while, but I'm not going to worry about it anymore," LeBeau said. Then he added, "I couldn't wait to get back."
During his acceptance speech in Canton, LeBeau said he was worried he would forget to mention someone important in his life. And he did.
Despite talking about most of the defensive starters, LeBeau said he regrets that he forgot to mention his linebackers, especially James Farrior, James Harrison and Larry Foote.
"I think I did a good job from an emotional standpoint," LeBeau said. "I made myself a promise I wouldn't cry, and I couldn't look over at the players or I would have. So I looked at a lot of people I didn't know."
In LeBeau's absence, linebacker coach Keith Butler ran the defense, even though Butler said all of the defensive assistants have been helping to run practice.
"He left a little outline of what he wanted to get done," Butler said of LeBeau. "He lets us coach anyway, unless there's something he doesn't like. That's the mark of a great coordinator -- that you let your guys coach, that he trust his guys, and he does."
Farrior playfully chastised his position coach for trying to replace LeBeau.
"It ain't the same," Farrior said. "Coach Butler gets too involved in the defense and what's going on and worrying about plays and if it's a first down. He can be yelling with [offensive coordinator Bruce Arians] all the time. We got to get our coach back."
Many of the players and coaches were still buzzing about getting to witness LeBeau's induction ceremony. Butler said coach Mike Tomlin would have had a "revolution" on his hands if he didn't allow the entire team to attend.
"It was wonderful. ... I was glad for him," Butler said. "It's a big honor for him. He probably should have been in there a few years ago. As a player, playing that many consecutive games , playing on a great defense; he played in a backfield with some great players and a lot of those guys got the credit. Dick finally got some of his."
The coaches aren't getting much of a look at the two rookies who were brought in to help improve the depth at outside linebacker.
Jason Worilds, a second-round draft choice, aggravated his hamstring in his first practice back after a weeklong absence and did not practice Monday morning. He was limited in the afternoon practice.
Thaddeus Gibson, a fourth-round choice, has been able to practice, but he is so far behind after missing all of the offseason training workouts that the coaches can't properly evaluate him. Gibson did not attend OTAs because classes were not finished at Ohio State.
Worilds has taken part in only two full practices since the start of training camp and it is not know how much this latest setback will affect him. The Steelers want to make sure his hamstring is fully healed so they can get a better look at him in preseason games.
"We'll continue to work him back," Tomlin said of Worilds. "And the only way to do that is with snaps."
The rookie linebacker who has caught the attention of the coaches is Stevenson Sylvester, a fifth-round pick from Utah. Sylvester is 6 feet 2, 231 pounds and has shown good range and instincts at inside linebacker.
Tackle Tony Hills (right ankle sprain) and defensive end Steve McClendon (medial collateral ligament sprain) were carted from the practice field with injuries in the afternoon. Tomlin said he did not immediately know the extent of the injuries. ... QB Byron Leftwich was given off for the afternoon practice. Tomlin said he will do that periodically with his other quarterbacks, too, with the exception of Dennis Dixon. "We got four arms in camp," Tomlin said. "We'll start a rotation to get one guy a rest and get more reps for the other guys." ... LB Harrison also did not practice in the afternoon because of what Tomlin termed "some shoulder discomfort."
First Published August 10, 2010 12:00 am