Nobody seemed to care ... except Ben Roethlisberger.
"If he says I won't be playing, I'll probably try to talk him out of it," said Roethlisberger, who'd like to return to Heinz Field and withstand the fans' reaction, good or bad.
"Coach might think it's better to come back on the road where you're going to get booed no matter what happens," Roethlisberger said. "But I want to get back to Heinz Field. That's definitely home."
Tomlin did say the starters would participate in 8-12 snaps. He also provided the following tidbits on other personnel fronts:
* First-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey will play at both guard and center in a reserve capacity.
* Jason Worilds, who just came back from injury, might not play since the rookie has missed most of camp thus far.
* Tomlin expects most of the other rookies to receive 35-plus snaps, as they will in the fourth preseason game, too.
* Isaac Redman will play on four special-teams units. The running back will have to improve in that area if he's to make the team.
ROOKIE WRs DOWN
Tomlin was asked repeatedly during his press conference Thursday about rookie wide receivers Sanders and Brown.
"They show maturity in terms of catching the ball and creating separation," Tomlin said. "But they're still new to the nuances of what we're doing here in this league. No question they have miles to go in that area."
That long journey continued later that day in practice when the two made several mistakes. At one point, Sanders, coming back from a deep route, lined up nearly 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and quarterback Byron Leftwich hollered from under center, "Get your (rear end) back." Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the same after a whistle was blown.
In the next drill, a 7-on-7 passing drill, the two rookies lined up wrong and Tomlin blew his whistle.
"Let's do this again!" Tomlin hollered. "Come on you young wideouts, you're killing the practice!"
After practice, WR coach Scottie Montgomery chewed both players out and both sat in place dejectedly for several minutes after Montgomery left.
VETERAN WR DOWN
Unlike Sanders and Brown, Antwaan Randle El didn't leave the field with a sick feeling in his stomach, but his passes did.
A converted quarterback with career stats of 21 for 28 with 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, Randle El threw two of the ugliest passes of his career. Both were incomplete.
"That was terrible. Terrible. No question," said Randle El, whose throwback off a reverse wobbled, quacked, and fell to the ground yards from anyone. His teammates even booed.
"That's what they do," he said. "They're playing the fool, that's all."
Randle El's other pass play was disrupted by two blitzers, who forced him to intentionally throw the ball to the sideline.
Second-round draft pick Jason Worilds could be breaking out of what had been a miserable camp.
In his second day back from a prolonged hamstring injury, Worilds lined up against David Johnson in a TE-OLB blocking drill. The hard-blocking Johnson fired off the ball, but Worilds stood him up and then threw him to the ground to make the play on a running back.
Next up for Worilds was Sean McHugh and the two fought to a draw with Worilds still able to make a play on the back.
On the next snap, Worilds whipped McHugh to the great pleasure of James Harrison, who whooped it up and patted the rookie on the rear end. Assistant coach Al Everest was also pleased and patted Worilds on the helmet before whistling an end to the drill.
Tomlin on whether his first draft pick as coach of the Steelers, Lawrence Timmons, is ready for a breakout season:
"He better be," Tomlin said. "It's time. Lawrence has been around here long enough and he's ridiculously talented. That's the standard."
The Steelers placed veteran outside linebacker Andre Frazier on injured reserve because of his knee, and signed linebacker Brandon Renkart (6-2, 245), who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2008.
Renkart spent 2008 on the Jets' practice squad, and was a member of the Cardinals' and Colts' practice squads in 2009.