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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Final tuneup

I focused on the team's rotation on the defensive line today at practice since that appears to be shaping up as one of the tougher cuts for the Steelers this year.

Defensive end Travis Kirshke sat out the practice presumably with his bothersome back. It’s getting to be a habit and he’s really opening the door for somebody to beat him out.

Rodney Bailey and Shaun Nua worked as the ends on the second-team defense, with Lee Vickers also seeing some snaps there.

Vickers and Orien Harris worked as the third-team ends, with Scott Paxson on the nose. It seems to be a sign that Vickers may be ahead of Harris at this point. Either that, or it’s a sign that Vickers is pushing Nua, whom he replaced at right end on the second Okie when he came in.

Bailey was on the nose in the team’s No. 2 quarter defense and may be moving past Kirshke in the battle for a backup position. The team figures to keep at least one of the two veterans, but probably not both.

Linebacker Joey Porter, who had said Wednesday that he would take things slowly in his comeback from offseason knee surgery, felt confident enough to go out and run pretty much a full practice schedule.

Porter returned to the first-team defense during 11-on-11 drills, though he did sit out the last portion of practice when the team was working on some things it would do against Arizona.

Ben Roethlisberger looked great in the 7-on-7 red zone, completing all four of his passes, three for touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Nate Washington, the first against linebacker Clark Haggans, the second against safety Mike Logan. Both passes were over the middle in front of the goal post and Washington made leaping catches both times.

Roethlisberger’s third TD pass went to Quincy Morgan, who had a couple of drops today. Roethlisberger made a nice pump fake and hit Morgan on a slant against Bryant McFadden.

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