Notebook: Timmons returns, does his thing

Jared Retkofsky

Mike Tomlin loved the way the final week of his first training camp began. But, there were other details, herewith:

LATROBE – Lawrence Timmons returned to practice, but it was more of the same for the Steelers' first-round pick – plenty of standing around.

Timmons wore his pads but did no hitting. He stood around, took mental notes, took half reps and then cleared up a mistake with reporters: Timmons went to Duke University for a second opinion about his groin injury and not Philadelphia.

"I think the biggest thing is what he's capable of doing mentally and where he is from a conditioning standpoint," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "That's going to dictate how quickly he comes back."

Timmons will one day line up at right outside linebacker behind James Harrison. Timmons has been through only three days of practice since being drafted 15th overall in April.

"I'm still rehabbing," he said. "Just being on the field is the only thing."

COMPETITION AT LONG-SNAPPER

On the heels of a blocked extra point in Saturday's 13-9 loss to Green Bay, the Steelers re-signed long-snapper Jared Retkofsky and released linebacker Matt King, whom they'd added the previous week.

"We just wanted to get some competition in here," Tomlin said.

Veteran long-snapper Greg Warren was partially responsible for the blocked kick. Packers defensive tackle Michael Montgomery barreled past RG Chris Kemoeatu and Warren to block Jeff Reed's kick.

Tomlin not only re-signed Retkofsky, an undrafted rookie out of TCU, but he had the block team going all out against short field goals at Monday's practice. But the block team failed to win the prize – a curfew-free night – as Warren held up.

"First and foremost, his job is to snap the ball," Tomlin said. "After he snaps the ball he's supposed to get big and protect as much as he can."

MIP OUT WITH INJURY

The Steelers' Most Indispensable Player, Marvel Smith, missed practice because of "some tightening in his back."

The Steelers need Smith to remain healthy, considering Max Starks's poor showing at left tackle. Starks allowed two sacks against the Packers a week after allowing one against the Saints.

Also missing Monday's practice were Chris Hoke (hyperextended knee), Chukky Okobi (ribs), Jerame Tuman (back), Darnell Stapleton (knee) and Derrick Jones (calf).

THE PHONE GAME

Ben Roethlisberger fielded a bunch of softballs from TV reporters yesterday but one interesting question slipped through: What does Ben think of the offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, calling plays from the field?

"We've kind of played the phone game in the past," Roethlisberger said. "Wiz tells Coach Whipple and Coach Whipple tells me and by the time I get the play there's 15 seconds left on the play clock, so having Bruce on the sideline calling the play straight to me has really been great because we've had more time on the play clock to make adjustments, to make changes and audibles. So far it's gone well."

OOZING TO THE FINISH?

Tomlin was pleased with the way the last week of his first training camp began.

"I tell you, I thought they took the field today," he said. "It's important that we have a finisher's attitude in everything that we do. They've done that to this point, even dating back to the off-season program. We just want to put an exclamation point on our training camp by having focused attention and great energy here in the last week. We don't want to ooze to the finish at anything that we do because that represents the game of football – how you finish drives, how you finish games, how you finish seasons. So we've thrown that challenge out to them and I like the way they responded today."

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