Archive for Monday, July 31, 2006

Fans go wild for Roethlisberger

July 31, 2006

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Ben Roethlisberger only needed to show up at training camp to get Steelers fans fired up.

They screamed in delight, yelled out his name, asked him to slow down so they could snap more pictures.

"They were loud, and they were cheering for any little thing that happened," coach Bill Cowher said of the 10,000-plus fans watching a practice that couldn't have been more routine, with a few passing and blocking drills and not much else.

That Roethlisberger was back with his teammates, throwing passes to first-round draft pick Santonio Holmes and getting a bit of a scare when he banged his right thumb off a lineman's helmet, was anything but ordinary.

The youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl is less than two months removed from a potentially tragic motorcycle accident that easily could have ended his life, and having him back on the field so soon is more than the Steelers and their fans could have expected.

"I got the arm loosened up, and the body, and proved a lot of people wrong," Roethlisberger said.

No wonder the fans were so eager to see him wearing a helmet again - even if it wasn't the kind of helmet that might have lessened the severity of the injuries in that June 12 crash, when he broke his jaw, nose and some orbital bones.

It was evident many of the fans gathered on St. Vincent College's hillsides were focusing on Roethlisberger's every move during two-hour practice that was uneventful except when his pass protection broke down on one play and his right thumb struck left guard Alan Faneca's helmet.

Roethlisberger grimaced for a play or two, talked with trainer John Norwig, then jumped back into the drill as if nothing had happened.

Two more first-round draft picks got deals done on Sunday.

The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms cornerback Tye Hill, the 15th overall selection. Contract terms were not immediately available for Hill, who missed the first six practices. Coach Scott Linehan said the Rams would get the former Clemson player to training camp as soon as possible and expected him on the field for the first of two workouts today.

The Seattle Seahawks and first-round draft choice Kelly Jennings agreed on a multiyear contract - two days after he was due to report to training camp.

Late Saturday, No. 2 pick Reggie Bush agreed to terms with the Saints, and Ernie Sims, the ninth pick, came to a deal with the Lions. That left only two of the top-10 picks unsigned.

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