OTAs to resume Tuesday

The Steelers begin their OTA practice sessions Tuesday. The team will practice three times a week for the next four weeks.

Coach Mike Tomlin resumes his spring practices Tuesday after giving his team two weeks off from OTAs, although they continued to voluntarily lift and work out in Pittsburgh.

According to the Post-Gazette, Troy Polamalu will miss the OTAs -- or at least standing on the sideline during them -- because of a knee injury and a desire to return to Southern California to prepare for the upcoming season. He's expected to be at full strength for training camp.

Rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall will return to Pittsburgh, where they'll get another look at the hamstring he injured on the first day of minicamp six days after he was drafted.

He said his leg feels "pretty good." So, too, has been his relationship with veteran halfback Willie Parker, the NFL's leading rusher through 14 games last season before he broke his fibula. The plan by Tomlin is to have Parker, who has topped 1,200 yards rushing in each of the past three seasons, and Mendenhall share time. How that's done is anyone's guess at the moment.

Parker, though, has taken Mendenhall under his wing and sees him more as a help than competition for his job.

"I've been in the league a little bit, so I definitely can teach him," said Parker, who has four NFL seasons behind him. "I embraced him as soon as he came in, trying to teach him the ropes and stuff."

Parker and other Steelers running backs helped put the first-round pick at ease.

"I was kind of nervous coming in," Mendenhall said. "But the running back room and Willie have been nothing but professional since I've been here, just trying to help me as much as they can. The better I do, the better they are going to do; we are going to be as a team."

What was Parker able to show Mendenhall in his first weekend as a pro?

"How to be a professional," he said. "He has been here for a few years. He is showing me how to work, what to do, how to carry yourself as a professional and as a man."

Said Parker, "I'm a team player. He's here to push me, I'm here to make him better. We're going to compete and have fun doing it."


-- Mendenhall had his Rose Bowl watch stolen during the holdup on the lakefront street in Chicago two days after his first Steelers minicamp ended. Still, he felt fortunate.

"It's cool," Mendenhall said. "It wasn't too bad. I'm safe. I was just hoping he wouldn't pull the trigger. I was just trying to cooperate so he wouldn't."

-- The Steelers have just one officially retired number, but many are unofficially mothballed by not issuing them. Alan Faneca's No. 66 might not be one of them.

Although Faneca is the most decorated guard in team history with seven Pro Bowls, rookie tackle Tony Hills was issued No. 66. Faneca signed with the Jets as a UFA in March. Of course, Hills could be reassigned another number once cuts are made. Last year, rookie LaMarr Woodley's No. 55 was changed to his college number 56 when Chukky Okobi was cut.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "At the end of the day, Sweed is not going to change how Hines Ward plays. It doesn't bother me who they bring in." -- Hines Ward on second-round draft choice Limas Sweed, a wide receiver.

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