Steelers Notebook: Stapleton's knee requires more evaluation
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Offensive lineman Darnell Stapleton watched afternoon practice from the top of a hill at Saint Vincent College for the second consecutive day yesterday as he awaited word on what might be wrong with his ailing left knee.
Stapleton, the Steelers' starting right guard, had an MRI, but coach Mike Tomlin said more tests need to be conducted before doctors determine either what is wrong or what to do about it.
"Still evaluating Darnell Stapleton to see where he is," Tomlin said after practice. "He did have an MRI, but we're getting some more work done, some other things looked at. When we're ready to talk about that, I will."
Stapleton had fluid on his knee after apparently injuring it Sunday during practice. He has not been on the field the past two days. Normally, slightly injured players watch from the practice field with their teammates.
Stapleton started 15 games at right guard through the Super Bowl after veteran Kendall Simmons blew out an Achilles tendon in the third game. Stapleton opened training camp at center because starting center Justin Hartwig has a right big toe injury.
Veteran backup tackle/guard Trai Essex has practiced with the first team at right guard.
With Hartwig and Stapleton out, Doug Legursky plays center with the first team and rookie A.Q. Shipley with the second.
Tomlin said Hartwig is close to resuming practice.
Hines Ward went through a full practice when the Steelers hit the fields Saturday and has not suited up since.
Not to worry, Ward said yesterday. It's just a case of saving the old guy and giving the young receivers more practice time.
"I'm just listening to what coach tells me to do," Ward said after spending the afternoon helping to coach the receivers. "If he does not want me to practice, I'm not going to argue with him. It's still early in the week, it's not going to win or lose. I'm going to come out and play the same way, I'm still going to be in shape.
"I think this week is more quality time for those guys rather than me."
Ward said he is healthy, recovering completely from shoulder surgery in February. He said Tomlin has not told him when he might return, but Ward hopes it is this week. His absence has allowed more time for Limas Sweed and rookie Mike Wallace, and also for starting split end Santonio Holmes to spend more time running out of the slot position, just in case.
"If something was to happen to me, Santonio has to move into the slot, so he's getting more reps in the slot and Sweed has to move outside," Ward explained.
Said Tomlin, "Hines is money in my emotional bank account. I take care of Hines."
Tight end Heath Miller gradually has done more in practice each day as he works back from June hernia surgery. Miller said he hopes to go through a full practice by this weekend.
"I thought Heath took a step this afternoon, in terms of participation," Tomlin said.
Running back Willie Parker was held out of practice with a sore shoulder and running back Mewelde Moore developed a sore hamstring. Safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Deshea Townsend remain hampered by hamstring problems.
First Published August 5, 2009 12:37 am