Monday notebook:

The Steelers went through two full-squad practices Monday, providing ample opportunity for some tasty notes:

LATROBE – At Monday morning's practice, veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton – who was out with a sore hamstring – was told that he looked pretty good while jogging on the sidelines.

"Aw, man," Hampton said. "I've got to milk this for as long as I can."

Hampton was joking of course. And that afternoon he suited up and practiced with his Steelers teammates.

"It looks like he's coming back to us," said Coach Mike Tomlin, "as is Ramon Foster."

That was the good news. The bad news is that rookies Jonathan Dwyer and Maurkice Pouncey remained sidelined with their hamstring problems.

"Pouncey is pretty close with his, based on the testing results, so we're encouraged," Tomlin said.

Rashard Mendenhall had one of his toes stepped on by an offensive lineman after he attempted a jump cut in the morning practice. He had the toe drained and could only suit up and help his position coach during the afternoon workout.

Rookie Jason Worilds – when went down clutching his knee before trotting back into the morning practice – injured his hamstring in the afternoon practice and will likely join the other rookies on the sideline Tuesday.

PRAISE FOR ROOKIE WRS

Two of the healthy rookies are expected to play critical roles for the Steelers this season, and Tomlin had positive things to say about wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

"I think they're past the initial learning stage," Tomlin said. "Both of those young men had productive offseasons, not only the official offseason but even after the official offseason came to an end. Emmanuel Sanders was in the building as much as anybody during the summer, and Antonio Brown spent a lot of time working out with Byron Leftwich down in Miami. Those are two young guys that feel the urgency of the moment to this juncture and I think they're benefitting from that."

FULLBACKS COMING, GOING

The Steelers claimed second-year fullback Dwayne Wright off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6-0, 234-pound Wright was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round in 2007 out of Fresno State. He gained 94 yards on 29 carries in 15 games for the Bills that season.

Wright was released by the bills prior to the 2008 season and was later cut by the New York Giants after the 2009 training camp.

The Steelers made room for Wright by releasing undrafted rookie fullback Demetrius Taylor, a converted defensive lineman from Virginia Tech.

QUOTABLE

Tomlin on his quick whistle during Ben Roethlisberger's scramble to James Harrison's side: "I didn't want James to actually catch him. I wasn't sure what might happen."

PRACTICE NOTES

* During morning individual drills, David Johnson dropped a beautifully thrown ball from Roethlisberger that came in over his shoulder for what would've been a 20-yard gain. Johnson's the best blocking tight end on the team, but his hands – never the softest – seem to have gotten worse since his last season.

* The running backs received plenty of receiving work in both practices. Even Frank Summers split wide at times. But, the Steelers still have trouble executing a simple screen pass as Brett Keisel blew up Roethlisberger's attempt to a back. A couple of plays later, though, Heath Miller turned a quick TE screen over the middle into a sizable gain.

* After dinking and dunking for several plays, Leftwich threw a perfect deep pass to Mike Wallace, who beat Crezdon Butler and Ryan Clark for a touchdown.

* To start the afternoon practice, the Steelers again went to their run-intensive 9-on-9 drill. They seem to be taking the same approach to improving the run game that Bill Cowher took in 2004.

* Isaac Redman found a few seams as a tailback, but certainly didn't make any as a fullback.

* Not only is Dennis Dixon connecting with everyone to whom he throws, short or deep, he's executing his run plays to a tee, and the Steelers have a few beauties in his arsenal, including the read-option series. Today Dixon followed two linemen on a quarterback sweep.

* Stefan Logan took his first kickoff up to the 50-yard line without being touched, and even then it's doubtful Jeff Reed would've made the tackle, but the play was blown dead anyway. Logan appeared more explosive than Joe Burnett and Sanders, who fielded the other kickoffs.

* Chris Kemoeatu went to the ground and rolled around in pain as the rest of the team held its collective breath. "Juicy" got up and limped to the huddle and appeared to play without hindrance the rest of the way.

* The ball rarely hit the ground during the 7-on-7 drills, bringing to mind a very different day when Kordell Stewart would often take off running during the all-pass drill.

* Didn't get a chance to see the line drills, but SCI.net contributor Mark Kaboly mentioned that Sunny Harris abused Tony Hills on two consecutive reps. The coaches gave Hills a third chance, and he beat Harris, who appears to have made big strides from his rookie season.


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