Has Foote Found Fountain of Youth?

Linebacker playing lights out. Other notebook items on Max Starks, two newcomers, David Paulson, Toney Clemons, Jerricho Cotchery, Kelvin Beachum, more.

LATROBE – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin answered with a steely "no" when asked if he's becoming annoyed with the fighting during practice this season.

Larry Foote just chuckled easily when asked why there was so much edginess.

"It's just camp fights," said Foote, the defensive signal-caller. "This year the difference is it's a lot of name guys, veteran guys who are fighting."

Aren't they fighting with more vigor?

"Nahhh. Same ol', same ol'," Foote said. "Fighting out here is just play fighting. It's not real anger. If you hear about fights in the locker room and weight room, then it's serious."

Foote may be taking the aggression lightly, but he's been as serious as a punch in the jaw this training camp.

In the one and only three-play series to start the preseason game in Philadelphia, Foote made a tackle and pressured the quarterback. And in the goal line drill Sunday, Foote made two tackles and blew up fullback Will Johnson to allow Baron Batch to be gang-tackled on his third and final play. When it ended, Tomlin said "Larry Foote controlled the whole drill."

At 32, has Foote discovered the Fountain of Youth?

"Well I don't know about all that yet," Foote said. "But the one thing from the game and the goal line is I was unblocked. So, somebody's doing something up front when the middle linebacker's making plays up front and in the backfield. Any time you're in the backfield as a linebacker, somebody up front did their job, so I give those guys credit."

Foote likes what he sees from a defensive line that's missing old stalwarts Aaron Smith (retired) and Casey Hampton (PUP list).

"They look good so far, the young guys," Foote said. "We have a lot of depth on the d-line. They look good, and when Hamp comes back they'll look even better."


Max Starks on Sunday said he could play by late August. On Tuesday, the Steelers activated him off the PUP list and said he'll begin practicing on Friday. Tomlin was asked if he might play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

"It depends on how he looks over the course of the next four or five days," Tomlin said.


John Clay suffered a torn quadriceps muscle in practice Sunday and was waived by the Steelers on Tuesday. To replace him, the Steelers signed running back Jason Ford (5-10, 251), another in a line of University of Illinois running backs to sign with the Steelers.

Ford follows Rashard Mendenhall and Carey Davis to Pittsburgh from Champaign, where he was second in Illinois school history with 26 touchdowns and 16th in rushing yards with 1,962.

Ford, like Davis, grew up in the St. Louis area and holds the all-time St. Louis metro record with 6,415 rushing yards at Althoff High. And like Davis, Ford projects to fullback with the Steelers.

Penn State fans may remember Ford for his 100-yard rushing performance last season and his 4-yard touchdown pass in an Illinois win the previous season. Ford was asked Tuesday which meant more to him.

"Probably the TD pass," he said. "Can't get no better than that, in front of 114,000 throwing a TD pass."

Earlier in the day, the Steelers announced the signing of tight end Justin Peelle (6-4, 251). The 33-year-old has 68 starts in 10 NFL seasons and has caught 123 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Drafted out of Oregon in the fourth round in 2002 by the San Diego Chargers, Peelle also played for the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and last year the San Francisco 49ers.

"My career's been mainly blocking, but I can do a little bit of everything," said Peelle. "I'm not going to catch 200 balls but I can do some things in the pass game and in the run game. I just have to knock the rust off and get ready to play."

Peelle said he's played fullback "in emergency situations" and that he's "looking to play and be a part of something that's going to be successful. Obviously, this organization has done it for years, so the opportunity to come here and win was a big draw for me."


* Tuesday's catch of the day was made by rookie tight end David Paulson, who jumped higher than Lawrence Timmons to catch a Jerrod Johnson pass deep down the field.

* Rookie Toney Clemons had a productive day and stood out for reading the blitz and catching a "hot" pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

* Roethlisberger found Jerricho Cotchery in the back of the end zone for a touchdown pass with less than 20 seconds left for a successful end to the two-minute drill. Roethlisberger and Cotchery both improvised to beat safety Ryan Clark.

* Cameron Heyward and Kelvin Beachum began to scuffle during the second-team two-minute drill and Tomlin called a timeout to order Beachum off the field. Tomlin was likely upset because the offensive player was not thinking about the clock. The second team under quarterback Charlie Batch did not score.

* Jeremy Kapinos, Doug Legursky and Mike Adams missed practice with injuries. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were limited.

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