Steelers Notebook: Rooney honored for work for peace
Running back Willie Parker signs autographs before training camp in Latrobe last night.
Steelers chairman Dan Rooney was honored by Queen Elizabeth for his for his work in Northern Ireland.
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The Queen of England has bestowed an honor -- or, as the British spell it, honour -- on Steelers chairman Dan Rooney.
He's not getting knighted so he won't be Sir Dan Rooney, but it's a high distinction nonetheless.
"Its a long way from the North Side," he said last night before the Steelers' practice at Latrobe Stadium.
Rooney, who has been active for years in helping the Queen's subjects in Northern Ireland, will receive an honorary Commander of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Rooney will receive the honor for his "exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland," according to a statement released by Shaun Woodward, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
"It's a great honor, but many people contributed to the peace process that brought both sides together," Rooney said. "I feel honored to even be thought of for it."
Rooney is co-founder of the American Ireland Fund (www.irlfunds.org) and co-founder of the Newry/Pittsburgh partnership. British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald will present the award to Rooney in Washington at a date to be determined.
John Fitzpatrick, the CEO of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group and American-Ireland Fund board director, also will receive the honor of Officer of the British Empire for his work in Northern Ireland.
"Northern Ireland has made remarkable progress over the past decade," Woodward said. "The fact that there has been such progress is down, in no small measure, to the considerable contribution made by Daniel and John in helping us to achieve a climate of understanding and a brighter future for all in Northern Ireland.
"Both men have been true friends to the people of Northern Ireland and loyal supporters of the peace process. I congratulate both men on receiving these awards which are richly deserved."
Fullback spot still exists
Carey Davis is listed on the Steelers' roster as a fullback.
It was only a few years ago that halfbacks Jerome Bettis or Willie Parker lined up behind Dan Kreider and followed their fullback's lead block through a hole he helped create.
That role was reduced by new coordinator Bruce Arians last year and now even Kreider is gone. The Steelers did not try to re-sign their longtime fullback, whose ACL was torn Nov. 26 (the St. Louis Rams subsequently signed the 31-year-old).
Davis (5-feet-10, 225 pounds) insists the fullback's lead-blocking assignments are still in the playbook.
"We still have all that in there," he said.
The only other fullback on the camp roster is first-year pro Billy Latsko (5-10, 233). Davis made the team last year as the No. 1 fullback, but Kreider pulled back ahead of him as the season wore on.
Last year, the Steelers used more one-back offense and leaned more on the tight ends to block. Often, the tight end will line up as the fullback.
Davis also is competing with Mewelde Moore, signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Minnesota Vikings, for the third-down back, something Parker also does on occasion.
As Casey Hampton works to get into shape, Scott Paxson works to make an impression.
Paxson is the backup to the backup, who is veteran Chris Hoke, at nose tackle. It's his third training camp with the Steelers, who signed him as an undrafted player from Penn State in 2006. Paxson has spent most of that time on their practice squad and never made an active roster.
With Hampton out, Paxson gets more work in practice.
"Casey will come back and be strong," Paxson said. "They already know what Casey can do. It's good that I can get some reps and take advantage of it."
Paxson was a tackle in the Nittany Lions' four-man line. It's taking some adjustments to play the nose in the 3-4. He's listed as 6-4, 292 but looks heavier.
Although waived by the Steelers, injured OT Jason Capizzi could rejoin them by midseason. They could have placed him on injured reserve, but he would have been out all season and not been permitted to practice. They will reach an injury settlement with him, and he could return later, provided his stress fracture in his left foot heals. ... Although coach Mike Tomlin said last night's practice at Latrobe Stadium "wasn't our sharpest," he liked what he saw from second-year LB Lawrence Timmons. Timmons was dominant in a drill called "Backs on 'backers." He went virtually unblocked. "Lawrence is a guy on the come," Tomlin said. ... QB Ben Roethlisberger seemed OK during practice, but Tomlin said afterward he might have a slight groin problem. ... C Sean Mahan did not practice because of a slight back problem. ...WR Santonio Holmes left camp because of a death in the family. He is expected back tomorrow. ... Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl watched practice from the sideline and was among the estimated 10,000 people in attendance.
First Published August 2, 2008 12:00 am