Notebook: McHugh fills all openings

The first open locker room of the new season was cause for much, um, talking in Pittsburgh. Read on.

PITTSBURGH – The Steelers filled several holes Wednesday with the signing of Sean McHugh.

First, they needed a tight end, since they had only two on the roster.


Second, they needed a backup fullback in case Carey Davis breaks down.


And third, with Charlie Batch on IR, they needed another Detroit Lion.


The Steelers reached into their "farm system" for another Lion with the signing of McHugh, a fullback/tight end from Penn State.

McHugh seemingly has it all going his way in Pittsburgh, even though he grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland. Was he a Browns fan?

"I was – until they left town," he said. "When they came back no one was really too excited about it."

McHugh called himself "a nasty-running tailback" at Chagrin Falls (OH) High School, where he was named to the Prep Star All-American Dream Team after gaining over 2,000 yards. But he was moved to fullback at Penn State and started at the position his junior and senior seasons. He was a co-captain and senior MVP of Penn State in 2003, but wasn't drafted until the seventh round by the Tennessee Titans in 2004. He was cut and spent the 2004 season in Green Bay.

The 6-5, 265-pounder spent the last three seasons with the Lions, where he played both tight end and fullback. Last season he made 12 starts and caught 17 passes for 252 yards. He was released Sunday and made plans to visit the Steelers that night. He now considers himself an H-back, or, in other words, the perfect fit for coordinator Bruce Arians' offense.

"I still think there's a need for tight ends and fullbacks, and when you can do a little bit of both it helps you out a little bit," McHugh said. "But you can't take the place of a fullback. You still need those on your roster. I do think H-backs are becoming more popular. When you can do both it helps you out."

McHugh was the only player to miss Wednesday's practice. He was out with a sore ankle. James Harrison was limited by "coach's decision," according to the injury report.


Donovan Woods, the undrafted rookie linebacker from Oklahoma State, was asked if he, his family, or the media was more surprised that he made the Steelers' roster.

"I guess everybody was surprised," he said. "Life's full of them, so I'm glad this was a good one."

In the final preseason game, Woods had a sack and a hit on the quarterback that nearly caused an interception. But he didn't think that won the job for him.

"I think I did good things throughout," he said. "I was just trying to be consistent, do something good every day. And then I took advantage of the time I got."

Woods applied pressure last week as an inside linebacker, but said he'll remain at outside linebacker, the position he prefers.


Selected nuggets from Ben Roethlisberger's weekly meeting with reporters:

Q: Do you pinch yourself over your amazing run in Pittsburgh?

A: "No, because if I get too big-headed I get in motorcycle accidents."

Q: Can this team win it all this year?

A: "I think so. I really do. We're young enough and experienced enough."

Q: What would threaten that?

A: "Listening to the media."

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