Flash & Dazzle

The Steelers open the season Sunday at Denver. Here's a notebook from their Labor Day practice.

PITTSBURGH – The Steelers always turn their practice tempo up the week of the opener, but Monday's tempo was made even quicker by the presence of both Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall.

Ever the burner, Wallace surprised no one with his sprinter's speed Monday. He also made three catches during scrimmages that ranged in description from good to great.

But Mendenhall, said to be out another month as he finishes rehabbing his torn ACL, flashed his burst time and again.

In the nine months since suffering the knee injury, Mendenhall doesn't appear to have lost anything.

"Not a step," said linebacker Lawrence Timmons. "In fact it looks like he's gotten stronger. I know he put on weight. He's in great condition. I'm happy for him. I'm really excited to see him come back."

Timmons was asked if he was impressed by Mendenhall.

"Of course. Look at him. He looks the same," Timmons said. "He should tear it up this year."

Rarely one to show much excitement, Mendenhall allowed for some optimism.

"It felt great. I had no problems at all," he said after bursting through holes and finishing his runs with hard sprints to the end zone.

As for Wallace, the former holdout performed well after spending Friday and Saturday working with coordinator Todd Haley on the new offense.

"I gave him Sunday off," Wallace joked. "Today I was good. I'm excited about it."

Wallace said learning the offense is just a matter of getting the terminology down, butut physically he looked like the same greyhound.

"He looked real good," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "It's great to have him back in the fold doing what he does best, which is blazing past everyone."

CAPTAINS BEN AND BRETT

Keisel figured he and Ben Roethlisberger might be named captains after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin used them as such before preseason games.

"Maybe the guys felt they had to vote for me," Keisel joked. "But I am honored to be named a captain of a storied franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Roethlisberger was an offensive captain in 2008, 2009 and 2011, but this is the first time Keisel has been so honored.

"I'm really excited about this team," he said. "We've got a lot of quick, young talent. We'll see where we go from here."

INJURY UPDATES

* Jason Worilds practiced and said his wrist felt good and that he isn't worried about a loss of grip strength. "And I was hinging just fine out there today," he said of a report that he was "unable to hinge his wrist to take on blockers."

Said Worilds: "I don't even know what that means."

* James Harrison was scheduled for individual drills only on Monday, but "I did everything except the last team (scrimmage)." He was pulled from practice early and had ice applied to his knee.

Harrison said the next step will be to monitor his morning recovery because the last two times he practiced – the start of OTAs and the first day of training camp – he knee became swollen and he was shut down.

Harrison said he's lost 10 pounds since last season but has added muscle to his upper body because "I wasn't able to do anything but upper body," he said of his weight training. "It was a while before I was able to do my legs the last week."

Harrison said his knee felt fine but that his legs grew weary. "It's a lot harder out there," he said. "It felt like the actual first day of training camp."

* Isaac Redman was limited as Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer received the bulk of the work at running back Monday. Redman is expected back from a minor ankle injury this week, but the starting job for Denver could be in question after Dwyer averaged 5.3 yards per carry this preseason and Redman only 2.2 in limited work.

NEW DEPTH CHART

Mendenhall is still listed as the starting running back on the Steelers' first depth chart, even though he's not expected to play this week.

Mike Wallace is listed as the starting split end and Casey Hampton as the starting nose tackle. Expect Hampton to play on run downs and Steve McLendon to replace him on pass downs.

Also, Chris Rainey is listed as both the top kickoff and punt returner ahead of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, respectively.


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