The Steelers lost a promising rookie they were trying to sneak onto their practice squad. And it wasn't running back Isaac Redman.
The Carolina Panthers signed defensive lineman Sonny Harris to their 53-man roster after he cleared waivers Sunday. Harris, a sixth-round draft pick in April, had been at the Steelers' South Side practice facility when he got the news that the Panthers had picked him up.
The Steelers signed seven players to their practice squad, including Redman, who had been one of the stars of the preseason, and center A.Q. Shipley, a Moon High graduate.
Running back Justin Vincent, inside linebacker Donovan Woods and tight end Dezmond Sherrod are the only holdovers from last year's practice squad.
The other two on the practice squad are wide receiver Tyler Grisham and defensive tackle Steve McClendon. Four of the seven players on the practice squad are rookies.
Teams are allowed to carry eight players on the practice squad, and the Steelers will likely add someone else to that unit.
They had hoped Harris, who had a sack and two quarterback hurries in four preseason games, would be on the developmental squad.
But the Steelers' plans changed when the Panthers put in a claim for the 6-5, 300-pounder.
Harris left the the Steelers' facility in the early part of the afternoon after accepting congratulations from his former teammates and a hug from starting defensive end Brett Keisel.
? Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, inside linebacker James Farrior and kicker Jeff Reed will be joined by two additional teammates at midfield for pre-game coin tosses this season. Outside linebacker James Harrison, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and inside linebacker Keyaron Fox joined the aforementioned four as team captains for the upcoming season. Roethlisberger and Ward will represent the offense, Farrior and Harrison will represent the defense and Reed and Fox will represent special teams. The Steelers announced their captains following practice Sunday afternoon.
"It's always a great honor," Ward said. "Out of all the awards, it's the players who see you on a day-to-day basis."
? Starting inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (ankle) and Woods (hamstring), who's on the practice squad, didn't practice yesterday because of injuries. Timmons' status for the Steelers' season opener Thursday against the Tennessee Titans is in question. Ward was given a day off by coach Mike Tomlin. Ward typically didn't practice Wednesdays last season. With the Steelers starting the regular season on a Thursday, yesterday was considered a Wednesday. Ward said he took "mental reps" yesterday and that he anticipates practicing today.
"I could have (practiced)," Ward said. "(Tomlin) wants me fresh for (games)."
? Nate Washington will visit Heinz Field as a member of the opposing team Thursday for the first time in his career. How effective the former Steelers wide receiver will be, if he's able to play, remains to be seen. Washington has been nursing a pulled hamstring, and when asked if he will play in the 8:30 p.m. game, he said, "I'm not allowed to answer that at this point and time." Washington, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent in February, did some running yesterday at practice. He said he will do everything he can to play against the Steelers . Washington was the Steelers' No. 3 wide receiver but left because the Titans offered him more money and a chance to start.
"There's no hard feelings at all," he said of leaving the Steelers . "I knew the situation; I knew the way it was going to pan out for the most part. They gave me a great opportunity."
? Roethlisberger is on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. He and four others took part in a discussion about why playing quarterback is arguably the hardest job in the NFL.
"I think it starts with the scrutiny," Roethlisberger said of what makes playing quarterback so difficult. "Everyone's always watching what you do, and it can wear on you."
Roethlisberger endured his share of scrutiny following the Steelers' 31-14 loss to the Titans in 2008. He committed all four of the Steelers' turnovers ? two interceptions and two fumbles ? in that game. When asked what the Titans' defense did to shut down the Steelers , Roethlisberger said, "Force turnovers, and that's on me. Any time you turn the ball over that many times, it's not good."
? Three players have changed jersey numbers. Wide receiver Shaun McDonald is now No. 81 after wearing No. 87, wide receiver/return specialist Stefan Logan switched from No. 41 to No. 11 and rookie cornerback Joe Burnett is No. 27 after previously wearing No. 40.
15.8 ??Yards per catch Washington had last season, the top average on the Steelers .
117 ? Rushing yards the Titans had in their 31-14 win over the Steelers last season.
Play FOX Fantasy Football