Friday Night Lights

LATROBE – The Steelers had one star return to the field, but another, Maurkice Pouncey, watched from the sidelines of Latrobe Memorial Stadium Friday night with a sprained ankle.

"It doesn't appear to be serious," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Pouncey's loss was balanced by the return of safety Troy Polamalu, who sat out the last two days as a precaution for his Achilles' tendon injury from a year ago.

Polamalu moved around at his normal practice speed and did not appear hindered. He was asked earlier in the day if he's next up for a Steelers front office that had just wrapped up negotiations with LaMarr Woodley on a 6-year, $61.5 million contract.

"I don't know," said Polamalu. "You know, my only comment – because I know things can get really misconstrued a lot – is that everything regarding our contract talks will stay between the Rooneys and my agent [Marvin Demoff]. Other than that, of course I would love to retire with the Pittsburgh Steelers."

COWHER ON SIDELINES AGAIN

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher returned to the Steelers' sideline last night as a guest of one of the team's owners, Thomas Tull.

The pair flew via helicopter to the downtown Latrobe field from nearby Arnold Palmer Airport.

"Being in Pittsburgh is very important to Thomas," Cowher said of the chief of Legendary Pictures. "I got to know him the last couple of years and he has a great interest not only in the Steelers but the city of Pittsburgh. It speaks volumes for not only the caliber of person he is, but obviously the city of Pittsburgh."

Tull has arranged for his latest potential blockbuster, "The Dark Knight Rises," to be filmed in Pittsburgh, and today several Steelers, including Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, will be filmed in the Batman movie at Heinz Field during a scene in which the team is going through pre-game warm-ups.

PRACTICE NOTES

* Backs on backers highlighted the nighttime workout Friday. It appeared as if Mike Tomlin set up his star blockers from the previous Bs-on-Bs session – rookie running back Baron Batch and first-year tight end Jamie McCoy – as fodder for blitzing linebackers such as Lawrence Timmons and Stevenson Sylvester. Both of the linebackers took their running starts and blasted into the backs and appeared to be the stars of the evening, as was newcomer Mortty Ivy, a linebacker from West Virginia University and nearby Gateway High.

* Speaking of former local high school stars, WR Terrence McCrae didn't have as many scoring opportunities last night at Latrobe as he had while playing for Connellsville High, but McCrae was used as one of two first-team gunners during special teams drills.

* The standouts during the team scrimmage session were receivers Antonio Brown and Arnaz Battle. Brown, in particular, stood out by catching a deep fade from Roethlisberger in the corner of the end zone.

* Defensively, the scrimmage standouts were once again Timmons and Sylvester. The latter eased up on a whacky play deep in the offense's own end zone, otherwise Sylvester would've tackled Rashard Mendenhall for a safety. Timmons, on another play, bolted up to take down David Johnson, a safety valve, with what appeared to be a flying dropkick. Timmons, more than ever, appears ready for a Pro Bowl-type of season.


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