Notebook: Sepulveda shocked by performance

Dan Sepulveda called his first performance "silly" good. Darnell Stapleton remains in MRI limbo.

UNITY TWP. – Dan Sepulveda kicked into a crosswind that reminded him of Heinz Field. He boomed a few, maybe more, but the Steelers' punter appeared to be disappointed in his performance.

"After you have a first day like I had, it's hard to be happy with anything else," he said. Sepulveda – on his first day back to work in a full calendar year – had what he called "the best punting workout I've ever had in my life."

To quantify what he did in that first camp practice, after returning from surgery to repair the ACL in his plant leg, Sepulveda kicked eight punts with a hang time of more than five seconds. He said he had only "three or four of those my entire rookie training camp." His best of the eight stayed up 5.34 seconds.

How good of a hang time is 5.34 seconds?

"That's silly," he said. "I mean, I was shocked. I knew that was something I could do, but it was just one of those days."

Sepulveda said his leg – which hadn't been healthy since his sophomore season at Baylor – "is 100 percent. No wobble, no glide, no nothing. It's nice and tight."

Before reporting, Sepulveda put himself through what he called "my own mini-training camp" for two weeks. He wanted to make a good "second first impression," and he did.

"It was important to me," he said. "It was real important that I go back out there and prove to them that I was still their guy. There may not have been as much riding on it as I had riding on it. It was important to me, so I was glad it went so well."

NO DECISION ON STAPLETON

Darnell Stapleton missed two more practices Tuesday after injuring his left knee two days ago. Stapleton was troubled by his right knee last season. He underwent an MRI on the left knee Monday, and the results came back Tuesday, but Coach Mike Tomlin said he was "still evaluating" the injury.

"We're getting some more work done, some other things looked at," Tomlin said. "When we're ready to talk about that I will."

When Stapleton was asked earlier in the day if he might miss the entire season, he said, "I don't know."

With Justin Hartwig also sidelined, the center position has fallen to last year's practice-squad center Doug Legursky and this year's seventh-round pick A.Q. Shipley. Legursky has been the first team center, and he's performing in a fashion similar to that of Hank Fraley in 2000, when he was an undrafted rookie and started the first preseason game because of injuries to Dermontti Dawson, Roger Duffy and Tom Myslinski. Fraley was cut at the end of camp, but has started all but nine games for Philadelphia and Cleveland since the start of the 2001 season

MINOR INJURIES

Willie Parker sat out of Tuesday's practice with a sore shoulder. Nicked veterans Hines Ward, Deshea Townsend and Troy Polamalu also missed practice. Hartwig and Heath Miller dressed, but were limited to non-scrimmage drills.

"(I) thought Heath took a step this afternoon, in terms of participation, as has Justin Hartwig," Tomlin said. "I like where those guys are going. Mewelde Moore finished the day with a slight sore hamstring."


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