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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A morning to remember

All eyes – or at least mine – were on Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons this morning as he worked for the second day in his second comeback from a groin injury.

Timmons, the team’s first-round draft pick, got a crash course in special teams play this morning in a practice that dealt specifically with that portion of the game.

Special teams coach Bob Ligashesky was in Timmons’ ear throughout the morning session, helping the rookie line up in the right spots and telling him exactly what’s expected of him.

Timmons did get to test his groin – which was initially injured on the opening day of mini-camp in May – while working on some kickoff drills, sprinting downfield before turning to set up to block. He looked like he got through that OK and also did some extra running after the practice.

Timmons’ return was good news for at least one Steelers’ veteran. Linebacker James Farrior, who had been forced to sit through the morning special teams practices even though it was unlikely he would play any this season, got to leave early this morning for the first time of this camp. It does not appear now that Farrior will be used on special teams unless there is an emergency, though he did see some time on that unit in 2006.

Those not in pads this morning included defensive lineman Derrick Jones, offensive tackle Marvel Smith, defensive tackle Chris Hoke, tight end Jerame Tuman and guard Darnell Stapleton.

Of note this morning was that I spent the night in Washington and was driving out to camp this morning listening to John Steigerwald’s daily radio show. He had Steelers’ scout Bill Nunn on the radio and Nunn was speaking about his days as sports editor for the Pittsburgh Courier, which used to put together an All-America squad every year for the traditionally black colleges.

In 1967, the fullback on Nunn’s squad was one Edward Tomlin, father of Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin.

Just as Nunn and Steigerwald were discussing this, Mike Tomlin happened to be walking by the radio tent at Saint Vincent College. Steigerwald called Tomlin over and Tomlin actually went on the air live - and unplanned – to talk about it.

It was just another unplanned moment in Tomlin’s camp and gives you a little insight into what Tomlin is really like.

I asked Steigerwald afterward if he would have done that with Bill Cowher, even in 1992, Cowher’s first year.

He said categorically that he would not have. But Tomlin just has a way that makes people feel so much more at ease than Cowher did. Let’s hope he doesn’t lose that.

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