World Champion Steelers focused on '09

Shhh, do not wake the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has been a relatively quiet offseason for them and they would love to keep it that way as training camp approaches.

Ben Roethlisberger has remained healthy with no sightings of him on a motorcycle, helmetless or otherwise. There have been no arrests, no complaining and no injuries unless someone counts the reported broken toe of center Justin Hartwig when he dropped something on it. Also, the head coach and his family do not plan to move to North Carolina.

That wasn't the case the last time they went through an offseason as Super Bowl champs. Roethlisberger nearly killed himself on his motorcycle, first-round draft pick Santonio Holmes was arrested twice and Bill Cowher's family was in the process of moving to Raleigh, N.C., where he soon followed.

Add in the normal distractions that go hand-in-hand with the Super Bowl champions and there were plenty of traps for the Steelers to fall into this summer. So far, though, so good, and many of them think things will be different this time around than they were in 2006. They came into that season as the reigning champs and started like chumps with a 2-6 record that ultimately became 8-8.

"I am not concerned about what happened in '05, '06 -- '07 or '08 for that matter," said Mike Tomlin, who enters his third season as their coach. "I am a singularly focused guy. My single focus is on developing a world championship-caliber team for 2009."

Hines Ward and other players have since accused the 2006 Steelers of losing their focus and that the experience from that will help the 2009 team keep sharp.

Tomlin, like most every head coach, detests distractions but he realizes they come with the territory.

"My mentality in regards to distractions is really changing and this is probably how I am growing with the job," Tomlin said. "If you are going to be good, distractions are a part of it."

CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 31 and will have their annual run test that day. Practice starts Aug. 1 and continues through Aug. 20, the last day at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. The players do not have a day off until Aug. 12, the day before their first preseason game. All practices are during the day except Aug. 7, when a 7 p.m. practice will be held at the high school stadium in downtown Latrobe.


--Steelers team physician Anthony Yates received the Jerry "Hawk" Rhea Award by the NFL Physicians society. The award is presented annually to an NFL team doctor for distinguished service. Dr. Yates has been with the Steelers since 1977.

--Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, who teamed up in 1976 to each top 1,000 yards rushing for the Steelers, have teamed up again for a Sept. 11 fundraiser for the flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pa.

"I have come to feel an affinity with United Flight 93," Bleier said. "The proximity of its resting place in Shanksville puts me in constant reach of that eventful day. The story of how a group of passengers and crew overcame those hijackers continually gives me hope."

--Former Steelers punter Pat Brady died in Reno, Nev., July 14. Brady was the punter on the Steelers' 50th anniversary team and was a member of their "Legends Team" on their 75th anniversary. Brady, 81, was a member of the Nevada Athletic Hall of Fame. Brady spent three seasons with the Steelers in the 1950s and twice led the NFL in punting average. But his career ended with a torn Achilles tendon in 1955.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Where we are is where we are. Where we are headed, more importantly than that, is our focus." - Mike Tomlin, saying the Super Bowl is long forgotten.


The Steelers have signed all of their draft picks except first-rounder Ziggy Hood.

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