LATROBE – The hitting was light for the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in their final full practice before their preseason opener Saturday at Arizona.
As such, linebacker Joey Porter, who had said Wednesday that he would take things slowly in his comeback from offseason knee surgery, felt confident enough to go out and run pretty much a full practice schedule.
Porter returned to the first-team defense during 11-on-11 drills, though he did sit out the last portion of practice when the team was working on some things it would do against Arizona.
Defensive end Travis Kirschke sat out the practice presumably with his bothersome back. It's getting to be a habit and he's really opening the door for somebody to beat him out.
Vickers and Orien Harris worked as the third-team ends, with Scott Paxson on the nose. It seems to be a sign that Vickers may be ahead of Harris at this point. Either that, or it's a sign that Vickers is pushing Nua, whom he replaced at right end on the second Okie when he came in.
Bailey was on the nose in the team's No. 2 quarter defense and may be moving past Kirshke in the battle for a backup position. The team figures to keep at least one of the two veterans, but probably not both.
Ben Roethlisberger looked great in the 7-on-7 red zone, completing all four of his passes, three for touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Nate Washington, the first against linebacker Clark Haggans, the second against safety Mike Logan. Both passes were over the middle in front of the goal post and Washington made leaping catches both times.
The team ran one two-minute drill at the end of practice, with Shayne Boyd directing play.
Boyd wasn't all that sharp, but picked up a couple of first downs on scrambles.
Harris sacked him on one third down play, but Boyd stepped up in the pocket and took off to convert a fourth and six, finishing the drive with a six-yard pass to Lee Mays to put the ball at the 34 for what would have been a field goal attempt.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.