Notebook: Kimo far from finish line

Notebook: Kimo far from finish line

LATROBE – With the clock winding down on the next class of potential free agents, Kimo von Oelhoffen is kicking back. He's waiting for the Steelers to wrap up more important matters.

"There are other guys that have higher values," von Oelhoffen said. "That's just the way it is, and you've got to take care of those guys. We've got some good, young core guys that we need to keep on this team for the future. When they're ready, they'll let me know."

Von Oelhoffen, 34, is entering the last season of his contract, but he's not ready to retire; not after the way he performed Saturday night. Playing with a sore back, the Steelers' right defensive end showed he has plenty of strength and explosiveness left.

"I'm going to play four more years, regardless," he said. "I mean, I'm not going to leave here; I'm going to do everything I can to stay here. But, no, I've got goals, too. My body's fine. My body's great actually. I don't think anybody can match me physically."

Von Oelhoffen said his back pain is a result of his bed and chairs at St. Vincent College and that it will subside. By then it might be time to talk money.

The Steelers will suspend all negotiations Sept. 11 when the season opens.

"I'm probably on the bottom of their list of priorities," he said. "But that's completely understandable. This is a business."

INJURY REPORT

Along with Joey Porter and Duce Staley, sitting out of Friday's preseason game at Washington (8 p.m. FOX) will be reserves Vontez Duff (shoulder), Chidi Iwuoma (shoulder) and Travis Kirschke (back).

Iwuoma is one of the gunners on the first punt team and will be replaced by Sean Morey, who'll be replaced at fullback by Mike Logan.

Coach Bill Cowher said Porter and Staley are "right on schedule" in rehabbing their knees. They're expected back for the opener, but Cowher said he's being cautious with Staley.

"With the situation we have at running back, we don't have to rush to get him back," Cowher said. "I think it's very important that we don't do that. We need him this season."

Alan Faneca missed Tuesday's practice with back stiffness. He was replaced at left guard by rookie Chris Kemoeatu.

ONLY TWO QBS?

Cowher will play the starters at least a half Friday night. "This will be the most extensively we use them," he said of the 4-game preseason.

Tommy Maddox will receive most of the second-half work at quarterback. In fact, he and Ben Roethlisberger could be the only two quarterbacks to make the roster. It's what Cowher did to start last season, and he's considering it again since Antwaan Randle El could take snaps in an emergency.

"You've got to entertain all of those things," Cowher said. "There are a lot of different combinations that come up. I don't know if we're leaning one way or another."

Brian St. Pierre began last season on the practice squad and is eligible to do so again.

SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKS TIES

Four linebackers – Andre Frazier, Arnold Harrison, Alonzo Jackson and Dedrick Roper – are competing for one roster spot. Cowher gave some clues about the front-runner at his Tuesday press conference.

"Those four guys, it's a battle," Cowher said. "I thought Roper played very well on special teams; Alonzo has been solid, nothing spectacular; and Andre has flashed some. I think these are battles where we're looking at special teams (and) we're looking at defensive play. We're going to be very cognizant of how many snaps they're getting so that we can evaluate them on an equal opportunity. That's why these final two games are important."

By his parameters, Cowher appears to be leaning toward Roper.

FIELDING PUNTS

One week after he returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown, Ricardo Colclough was criticized by Cowher for his risky maneuvers Saturday night. Colclough muffed (and recovered) a bouncing punt; lost a yard each on two other returns; and fielded another at his own 10 with a defender nearby.

"What was he going to gain?" Cowher asked. "I'm glad it was in the preseason and hopefully it will be something he'll learn from. Maybe we'll get (Antwaan Randle) El back there this week. I'd like to get him one back there. I've got to get him a punt return. Maybe I'll give him the first one and then get Ricardo back there. I'm fine with him. You've got to have guys who are comfortable."

THREE QUESTIONS …

… with linebacker James Harrison:

Q: What made you do sit-ups after your touchdown Saturday?
A: I was already on the ground, so I figured I'd get a few in.

Q: When Joey Porter comes back, do you expect to return to the bench?
A: Yeah. Joey's the starter. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do – come in, back up.

Q: How long can you accept that after playing so well?
A: As long as I have to. I mean, there's nothing I can do about that.

A DAY LATE

On Monday, the Steelers cut running back Chad Scott and wide receiver Sam Simmons. The Steelers must cut their roster to 65 players by Aug. 30 and 53 players by Sept. 4. They currently have 84 players with six NFL Europe exemptions (Mike Barr, Janssen Patten, Joe Iorio, Ulish Booker, Ben Claxton and Josh Burr). With those six players, the Steelers can keep 71 until Sept. 4.

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