Saturday, February 5, 2011
Families watch Steelers' practice
By Calvin Watkins
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' last practice in preparation for Super Bowl XLV at the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility on the TCU campus was relaxed.
Family members surrounded the field as the players went over some situational plays during a casual walkthrough.
Players wore jerseys and shorts and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wore the jersey of teammate Brett Keisel.
A relaxed practice in front of family members was the goal of coach Mike Tomlin, who followed a similar strategy for Super Bowl XLIII.
Tomlin was hopeful the addition of family members outside the field would help the players stay focused on the eve of the Super Bowl.
"Nothing else was normal," Tomlin said before boarding the team bus after the nearly 45-minute session. "But there's not a lot about this week that is [normal], so we're not going to fight against it. We're going to embrace it."
After the practice, family members gathered at midfield to greet their loved ones and take a team/family photo at midfield. Players also posed for individual photos as little kids ran around the field.
"It's two-fold," Tomlin said. "We want to honor them of course because their love and support is the reason why these men are here. But also we use them to a degree because we had to get some work done today and nothing outside of the white lines was normal but let's face it, nothing tomorrow night outside the white lines is going to be normal. This is a mock game for us, it represented just that. It was unique in terms of the people that were outside the field but the work we got done inside the white lines was very normal for a Saturday."
Among the people watching practice were owners Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II, TCU football coach Gary Patterson and Steelers greats John Stallworth and Mel Blount.
One person who watched practice was living his dream in 16-year-old Randy Stephens. The Wheeling, W.V., native received a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to attend a Super Bowl. As an added bonus, he was allowed to watch Steelers practice on Saturday.
Hines Ward, Casey Hampton and Roethlisberger posed for pictures and signed a football for Stephens.
Off the field, the Steelers made a roster move placing rookie center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) on the reserve/injured list and adding center/guard Dorian Brooks from the practice squad.
Nothing else has changed on the injury front as defensive end Aaron Smith (torn triceps) will not play on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Calvin Watkins is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com.