Steelers Notebook: Roethlisberger to start vs. Eagles
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The restraints have been taken off Ben Roethlisberger.
After being limited in practice for four days because of a groin injury, Roethlisberger took part in all team drills yesterday and will start the preseason opener tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger will "probably not" play more than a series before giving way to veteran Charlie Batch against the Eagles.
Tomlin said he plans to use all four quarterbacks in the preseason opener, following Batch with rookie fifth-round pick Dennis Dixon and free-agent rookie Mike Potts.
"When you talk about what you look for in a first game, you're looking for some young guys not to be surprised by the speed of the game," Tomlin said. "Hopefully, we play to an acceptable standard in terms of assignments, but you know, first time out, there will be those issues.
"More than anything, we're looking for competitors, the guys who can step up when the lights are on inside stadiums."
Four players already have been ruled out of the game -- Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton, safety Anthony Smith and tight end Cody Boyd. Polamalu and Hampton remain on the physically unable to perform list.
Rookie Rashard Mendenhall, the team's No. 1 draft pick, is among three players who are scheduled to return kickoffs, along with newcomer Mewelde Moore and wide receiver Willie Reid.
Moore, signed in free agency from the Minnesota Vikings, will return punts with former Pro Bowl returner Eddie Drummond, who was signed last week, and former Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom.
"The big thing we want to do is give everyone a chance to at least show what they're capable of doing," Tomlin said. "We'll harden this thing as we go along"
One player who will not return punts against the Eagles: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who has been given some work there during training camp.
Tomlin said it's possible Holmes will get an opportunity in the second preseason game against Buffalo Bills in Toronto.
Sean Mahan, the starting center last season, will start against the Eagles, with newcomer Justin Hartwig getting the start against the Bills.
Hartwig was signed in free agency from the Carolina Panthers to a two-year, $3.75 million contract because the coaches felt a bigger center was needed to handle some of the AFC's huge nose tackles.
"I think it's been one of the more highly contested battles [at training camp]." Tomlin said of Mahan and Hartwig. "Both guys have shown some good things. The preseason games will give us more of an indication how this will go."
Because Holmes and veteran receiver Hines Ward likely will not play more than a series, rookie wideout Limas Sweed should get plenty of playing time against the Eagles -- a prospect that excites the team's No. 2 draft pick from Texas.
"I feel like I'm capable of doing a lot of things and come Friday night I finally get a chance to show what I can really do," Sweed said.
Punter Daniel Sepulveda had surgery yesterday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, his plant leg. He will not play this season, but the Steelers have not placed him on injured reserve yet because they have to wait until the roster is reduced to 72 players, Tomlin said.
First Published August 7, 2008 12:00 am