Notebook: Buzz about Frazier

Notebook: Buzz about Frazier

LATROBE – Andre Frazier is the hot new sleeper in training camp, but not because he has an in with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

LeBeau coached Frazier's dad, Guy, with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1981-84, and Andre Frazier played at the University of Cincinnati; not that LeBeau knew anything more than what Steelers scouts told him.

"We thought he had the potential to fit into our style of defense and I think he's done a good job," said LeBeau. "Again, he was a down lineman in college and he's in that transitional period, but I think he's doing a good job. He's got a good work ethic and is working hard."

LeBeau also likes Frazier's aggressiveness. In fact, coach Bill Cowher had to take the 6-foot-5, 234-pound outside linebacker aside after Wednesday night's practice and warn him to stop tackling his teammates.

"He's making a total transition," Cowher said. "There's a lot of learning going on, but I've seen him flash some good things. I want to see it in a game, but I like what I've seen to this point."

Frazier was a three-year starter at Cincinnati and finished as the school's second all-time sack producer with 22.5. He was a first-team All-Conference USA defensive end last year and has also won awards for academic excellence.

He's tall, rangy, athletic, productive and smart, but yet Frazier was undrafted. The Steelers signed him as a free agent and the buzz about him has grown to a crescendo this week with the injury to Joey Porter.

"I really didn't hear the buzz. This is the first time I'm hearing it and it sounds good," said Frazier, who talks to his dad every day.

"His main piece of advice is do what you can do and go as hard as you can go and everything else will pan out," he said.

After Guy Frazier left the Bengals, he played two years for the Buffalo Bills. In 74 games as a pro linebacker, he had five sacks and an interception.

"His dad was a good player. He was fast and smart, just like Andre," said LeBeau. "It makes you feel a little older. I was telling the guys last night it started out I would coach the sons of the guys I played with. Now I'm coaching the sons of the guys that I coached."

WARD TO SKIP SIX GAMES?

During ESPN's telecast of Thursday night's preseason game, Chris Mortensen reported that Hines Ward is telling people he will sit out the first six regular-season games if an agreement with the Steelers cannot be reached.

Jerome Bettis is skeptical of the report.

"Who's he telling?" Bettis asked. "He didn't tell anybody on this team and we're the closest friends he's got. He's not super close with guys on other teams; he wouldn't tell them that. So I take that with a grain of salt. Mortensen reports some things, but you'll never know where it's coming from. Maybe they're fueling it to stir it up."

Is Ward negotiating through the media?

"Well you've got to when they say they're not going to talk to you," Bettis said. "You've got to do something to get them to return a phone call. I would.

"But it's a possibility. When it gets to this stage it becomes a realistic possibility."

S.O.S FOR RECEIVERS

With Ward holding out, and Lee Mays, Walter Young, Antwaan Randle El and Sean Morey sitting out with hamstring problems, the Steelers are strapped for wide receivers. None of the six on the roster were with the team last year.

"They might want to ask you come out there and take a shot," joked Mays, who hasn't practiced this week.

"I just want to be out there, not from a ‘big chance' standpoint," Mays said. "I miss the game. I miss being out here with the guys. I feel like I'm just a loner out here. It's frustrating."

Randle El twisted his ankle Wednesday night to go along with his hamstring pull. He expects to return Saturday.

"It keeps biting when I take off," he said. "I tried to come out today and run. That's why I'm taped up. It hurts when I try to really go, but it'll be alright. Don't get worried."

Also missing Friday's afternoon practice with minor injuries were Kimo von Oelhoffen (back), Deshea Townsend (Achilles' tendon), James Farrior (back) and Tommy Maddox (flu).

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