LATROBE, PA – The Steelers hit the field for the first time on Friday, and it was a unique situation, as many of the veterans, who have either signed contracts or still are without were not on the field and the players were without pads, per the new CBA agreement.
It gave many of the younger players an opportunity to show what they had, especially on the offensive line, which saw Kyle Jolley at left tackle and rookie Keith Williams along with Chris Scott.
It also was the first day quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, Rashard Mendenhall and Hines Ward spoke to the media.
HARRISON APOLOGIZES FOR HIS COMMENTS
When James Harrison did his interview with Mens Journal Magazine in March, he was still seething from the Steelers loss in Super Bowl XLV, and also under the impression the story was about sports injuries.
“I was speaking out of anger and frustration at the time,” Harrison said. “Any comments that I may have made that offended anyone with my careless use of words, I apologize.
“It was my understanding that article was to be more about player safety then it was,”
Harrison ended up calling out some teammates along with some pretty harsh words for Commissioner Rodger Goodell. On Friday, he apologized.
” The comments I made about Roger Goodell were inappropriate at the least and way out of line,” Harrison said. “I was speaking out of anger and frustration at the time. Any comments that I may have made that offended anyone with my careless use of words, I apologize.”
Asked what he said to his teammates and their reactions, he had this to say.
“That’s all behind us, like I said those comments were all taken out of context,” Harrison said. ” What I said to my teammates is what I said to them, thats not for you guys.”
There has been some speculation that he could face disciplinary action from the league for his comments about Goodell, but Harrison didn’t know.
“I don’t know. We’ll find out. I don’t think he’s a guy who will hold something on a personal level. I attacked him on a personal level, which wasn’t right. But I don’t expect anything to be done.”
HEY WARD NO LONGER WAYWARD
The Steele rs announced they came to terms with its first round pick today, Cam Heyward, son of former Pitt great Craig ” Ironhead” Heyward.
“We are happy to announce that Cam Heyward has singed his contract,” Steeler president Art Rooney II said .”It’s a little different order. We usually do this before they hit the field, but he’s already had his first practice, albeit a short one.”
Heywood, who played ball at Ohio State in a system similar to Dick LeBeau’s was ecstatic to put on his jersey and even apologized for being late, showing the type of character he is.
“I’m excited to be here, been a long life dream to get onto that field, sorry I’m late, but I will make it up, I’m going to get the playbooks tonight, I’m just looking to contribute and learn from these guys and be like a sponge and take it all in.”
He is the second defensive lineman to be selected in the first round by the Steelers the past two years (Ziggy Hood the other) and is expected to have an impact his rookie season at a position that has long been one of the best in the league for the team.
” It’s the best d-line in the NFL and I get to be a part of it,” Heyward said. ” I get to learn from these guys. from top to bottom these guys are sound and its a true honor to play with them. I get to get coached by coach Mitchell and have fun. I’m looking forward to it and being a part of this organization and this great defensive line.”
Heyward who hadn’t put a helmet on since Jan. 4, said it was very exciting to be back on the field, despite the shortened practice due to the thunderstorms.
” I’m a guy who likes to be out there ten minutes early, so I have to make it up,” Heyward said. ” Guys are ahead of me, so I have to take it one day at a time. I have a lot to learn.”
Steeler coach Mike Tomlin was pleased to get him into camp.
” We knew it would happen, “said Tomlin about getting the team’s No. 1 pick signed and in camp. “It’s good that it’s over, and he can move on with starting his career. We’re happy, and of course excited that he’s a part of us. We’ll just continue to roll our sleeves up and continue this process.”
The Steelers also announced all of their other moves this afternoon, including the signing of Ike Taylor and the remainder of the 2011 draft class including Texas cornerback, who was signed later in the evening.
WARD TALKS ABOUT PUP AND DUI
Hines Ward was contrite when he spoke about his DUI, and called it unfortunate, the price of fame and called it a learning process. He also said his mindset is about winning another Super Bowl.
“It’s an unfortunate incident and I really can’t speak about the matter,” Ward said. “Like I said, I just got to leave it into my attorney’s hands, but I’m confident , like I have said, at the end everything’s going to work out and everything’ll be fine. I’ve been a model guy for 13 years, its just an unfortunate thing.”
While the National media have said the incident could be a distraction, Ward said that his teammates haven’t really brought it up, and that he also hasn’t heard anything from the league.
“I’m still going to continue to be the same guy, still do good things for my charity, and still be one of the leaders on the team, ” Ward said. ” My teammates haven’t said anything about it. They asked me about, but we are moving on, we are trying to win the Super Bowl. I don’t think this is going to be a distraction to them, we have other issues to worry about.”
As for his injury, Ward says he should be back soon, but for the time being will help coach up the younger guys.
” For me, I’m on the PUP list, gives me a chance to get in shape and all these young guys to get more opportunities and more reps,” Ward said. “I’m hoping to be back soon I feel fine, I think maybe a week or two, but I feel fine. It gives me a little more time to coach a bit.”
HOTEL NO MORE
The writing was on the wall, and it was only a matter of time until Steeler tackle Flozell Adams was cut from the team.
Signed last season, Adams was the only Steeler tackle to play all 16 games but after the team signed both Willie Colon and Jonathan Scott to deals, and the fact he was due to make $5 million, something had to give.
While there are some who believe he could be brought back at a lower price, sources say Adams scoffed at playing for less. So like Max Starks, who it is also thought could be brought back later in camp, it will be interesting to watch how things pan out.
Following Bin Laden’s death, Rashard Mendenhall made this Tweet, which drew the ire of millions.
It said: “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”
He finally spoke about the comments on Friday, but could not comment much due to an ongoing lawsuit with Champion, who dropped him after the tweets.
“It’s not been an issue – I’m really not going back into it,” Mendenhall said. “I addressed that with the clarification, so now it’s just all football, we’re back with our teammates and everything’s good.”
* Of course, James Harrison’s comments in Mens Journal Magazine came up in discussion with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and like the rest of the team he shrugged them off with a smile.
“None at all,” Roethlisberger said in regards to holding any ill will. “He called me that morning and left me a voice mail because he said he was sure I wanted to talk with him, and there is no lingering effect whatever.”
*Under the new CBA, teams are allowed to have 90 players on the expanded rosters in training camp. With the signing of of six of its draft picks, they now have 87 players on the roster.
*Reports still have Tomlin meeting with Plaxico Burrress today sometime, and while players, especially the young receivers seem receptive to it, there is one player who fits Plax’s mold, but has yet to show promise Limas Sweed.
Sweed is back, and while he dropped a few balls during the practice session, he claims he is good to go and ready to prove something.
“I feel like I’m 110 percent mentally, physically, mind, body and soul. And now it’s just time to put it all together.” Sweed told reporters.
*Tony Hills signed his tender on Thursday. It is reported to be in the $1.2 million range. He won’t be able to hit the field until August 4th though, due to the CBA.
* Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert will hold a press conference, and it will be unique, as the Steelers will hold it live and fans can watch on Steelers.com beginning at 10:30 this morning.
“We’re all just excited to be back out here and get back to work and do what we do and that’s playing ball,” said defensive end Brett Keisel