As I told you would happen yesterday, Chris Kemoeatu returned to practice today when he was activated from the PUP list.
I got a good chance to watch Kemoeatu in the one-on-one drills and you see why the team likes him so much. He's just a big, powerful guy with a nasty streak.
He did about 10 reps in the pass protection drill and dominated eight of them, with only Ryan McBean and Kyle Clement getting the best of him on one rep each. And that's a rusty Kemoeatu.
The only question with him over the years has been his ability to pick up the playbook. It's not that he's not bright, but he does have some language issues that seem to hold him back a little.
© Today was a big day off for veterans as 10 guys sat out, most with groin injuries. I've come to believe that the groin injury is now an excuse for Mike Tomlin to give his vets a rest.
James Harrison, Deshea Townsend, Marvel Smith and Brett Keisel were among our groin injuries today, with Kendall Simmons sitting with a shoulder injury. None are considered serious.
© If you're looking for some feeling into how the team is thinking, Lawrence Timmons replaced Harrison in the base defense, while Andre Frazier replaced him as a rush end in the quarter. That would lead me to believe Frazier is the leading candidate as the fourth outside linebacker – though Bruce Davis figures to get a scholarship year as a third-round pick.
But if Timmons shows he can play OLB, maybe they let Frazier go and just keep Davis. I doubt that, though.
Bryant McFadden was in the base for Townsend. No surprise there.
Max Starks replaced Smith, while Darnell Stapleton took over for Simmons. That was a little surprising as Trai Essex, who had been in for Kemoeatu at left guard, moved to the second team.
© The team did some kick return practice today, with Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Jeremy Bloom, Willie Reid and Eddie Drummond taking turns deep.
Mendenhall muffed one of his attempts.
© Justin Hartwig seems to be getting his feet under him in one-on-one drills and is no longer being beaten by Chris Hoke, the team's best practice player.
Hoke goes hard every rep - it's one of the things the coaching staff loves about him. And he routinely makes whoever he's working against look bad because he's working at game speed.
Hartwig appears to have adjusted to that, which is a good sign.