MC Notebook:

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger could play Sunday, less than two weeks after minor knee surgery ...

... "if I had to," said the Steelers' quarterback.

And rookie Landry Jones – continuing to look like anything but the QB heir apparent – said his shoulder-to-forearm wrap doesn't indicate that he has a sore arm.

"That's what I do after every practice," said Jones after serving up yet another heavy dose of short passes to start mandatory minicamp and the final week of spring practice.

In fact, Roethlisberger threw as many short passes as Jones on Tuesday. The veteran worked with the team during individual and skeleton passing drills.

While Roethlisberger didn't dress for practice, and his knee was wrapped and understandably tender, he helped the offense with the throwing workload and kept a steady rap with the receivers. A play after complimenting Plaxico Burress for a touchdown, Roethlisberger was dispensing route advice to undrafted rookie J.D. Woods.

"It feels great," Roethlisberger said of his knee following the "clean-up" surgical procedure performed the previous week.

"I saw Dr. (Jim) Bradley this morning, and he was pleasantly surprised with the range of motion and where we are at, and the swelling. So, it feels great."

"We'd love to have him," said offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "But we feel night and day ahead of where we were last year at this time, and I think he'd say the same thing."

As for Jones – the fourth-round pick who threw several wobbly intermediate-to-deep passes the first week of spring drills – his arm strength appears to have improved a bit, but with such short passes it's difficult to gauge.

Jones was given the reins of the second-team offense during the energetic two-minute drill Tuesday. He moved the unit into the red zone, but threw three errant passes before the clock ran out.

"It didn't end in a score, but it wasn't bad," Jones said. "It's different from the no-huddle I ran in college, that's for sure. It went good. It's coming along."

D.J. STRUGGLING

David Johnson tore an ACL at the start of last year's training camp, so he's still in recovery mode – and it shows.

"It's not 100 percent yet," the tight end said of his knee. "I'm still working on it. I'm just really trying to get back to doing things. I'm really looking forward to being 100 percent by camp."

Johnson opened spring drills on the first team, and has retained that spot ahead of the healthy Matt Spaeth.

Yesterday, Johnson caught a deflected pass from Bruce Gradkowski for a touchdown pass in the two-minute drill.

"I definitely feel a lot better than I did the first practice," Johnson said. "I can feel my speed and strength and everything slowly coming back to normal. Some days I'm a little sore out there, but that's just part of the process."

ROLL CALL

The Steelers don't release injury or attendance information during spring practice, but that won't stop us.

Dressed, but didn't practice: David Paulson, Terry Hawthorne.

Not dressed for practice, but present: Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Sean Spence.


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