Steelers Make More Roster Cuts & Team Report

<b>PITTSBURGH -- </b> He was a surprise roster addition in 2001, but midnight has struck on linebacker Justin Kurpeikis.

The Steelers cut the third-year veteran Tuesday afternoon, along with undrafted rookie free agents Jason Armstead and Russ Stuvaints. Armstead is a wide receiver from Ole Miss and Stuvaints is a safety from Youngstown State and nearby McKeesport.

Kurpeikis, of Penn State, is also a local product. The Allison Park native played in nine regular-season games and two playoffs games but never started for the Steelers. A special teams player, Kurpeikis was forced off the roster by the drafting of Alonzo Jackson in the second round of this year's draft as well as the special-teams play this summer of second-year linebacker James Harrison.

The Steelers, with roster exemptions on NFL Europe's Jabari Issa and Mike Cook, are down to 67 players. They must cut down to the season limit of 53 by Sunday, Aug. 31 at 4 p.m.

Aaron Smith has worn just about every type of football shoe made, but nothing's helped his aching feet.

"Look at all them," he said, pointing to 40-some pairs of shoes in his locker. "All of those shoes right there and I ain't found a pair yet that works worth a (darn)."

Smith has had problems with his feet the last three years. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive end normally has a doctor drill a hole in each of his big toenails to relieve pressure from excess fluid.

"The previous two years we kept drilling them but this year I said the heck with that," Smith said. "It kills me with the fluid in them, so I said just take 'em."

So a couple of weeks ago, doctors used a scalpel to peel the skin back and then a pair of pliers to yank the big toenails off.

"The toes are actually good now," he said. "These blisters on the heels are bothering me now."

Smith doesn't know how these problems with his feet began. He thinks it has something to do with the way he runs, or stands, on his toes when he's playing. He said it doesn't bother him during the game because of adrenaline.

"But during a stoppage it hurts," he said.

Has he been to a doctor?

"No," Smith said with obvious disdain. "I ain't going to see no doctors. I don't know. Everybody keeps giving me ideas – walk around barefoot, soak them in Epsom salt. I got all sorts of ideas. And I didn't want it to happen again, so I ran in cleats every day during the off-season. It hasn't made a difference."

His take on the defense this year?

"I think it's a matter of guys taking care of their responsibilities," Smith said. "Actually last year maybe some people here and there would get away from their responsibilities, trying to do too much or not doing enough, just here and there. This year it seems on third down, collectively as a defense, everyone wants to get off the field."

Defensive end Brett Keisel missed Tuesday's practice with a minor shoulder injury. It occurred during last Friday's game, but Keisel practiced Monday. Also missing practice Tuesday were running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (hamstring), tight end Jerame Tuman (groin) and right tackle Oliver Ross (ankle).

Newly named starting halfback Amos Zereoue has only 30 yards rushing on 13 carries this preseason, while backup Jerome Bettis has 42 yards on 14 carries. Combined, the two don't come close to the Steelers' leading preseason rusher, rookie Dante Brown, who's gained 101 yards on 16 carries. Behind Brown is third-down back Verron Haynes, who has 73 yards on 19 carries and leads the team in all-purpose yards because of his 117 receiving yards on 11 catches, both team highs.

Quarterback Tommy Maddox has a passer rating of 85.7 to better Charlie Batch (59.4) and rookie Brian St. Pierre (40.9).

Defensively, the leading tackler is rookie Troy Polamalu with 11. James Farrior is second with nine.

Jim Wexell

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