A chance to look at the rookies


By Teresa Varley

Linebacker James Farrior is attending his 13th minicamp this weekend, while Hines Ward is at it for the 12th time.

And while they are far removed from their rookie seasons, they understand what this year's crop is going through and that is why they are doing their part to help the young players out.

"I try to take a look at the young guys, especially the linebackers that we have, during practice," said Farrior. "I just want to make sure they are doing the little things they need to do to get better. Not so much doing their assignments, but just hustling to the ball and the things we are used to seeing on the field.

"I know their heads are spinning right now. They won't learn the defense until later in the season if they make the team. As long as they have the other stuff going in the right direction I am okay."

Ward, who joked that he is like a player-coach right now since he is limited in minicamp as he still recovers from offseason surgery, also is keeping a close eye on the receivers.

"You look at them and you know if they can play or not," said Ward. "You know there will be mistakes. But our job is to make it easier for them so they can understand and give them the best opportunity to go out and be the players they can be.

"There is great talent, but there is a lot they don't know about the game itself. I am trying to teach them, see them grow and develop. Hopefully by training camp they can take everything they learn and be positive contributors."

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A week ago the members of the Steelers rookie class had no idea what their future would hold. Today, things have changed considerably.

"It has been crazy and an exciting week for me," said cornerback Joe Burnett. "I am humbled and blessed to be here. It's a great franchise. I am happy to go through this experience."

Burnett, the team's fifth round draft pick out of Central Florida, has had a quick introduction to Pittsburgh from his first arrival at the team's practice facility to practice on Friday and then a rookie dinner on Friday night.

"It's exciting, seeing the colors black and gold," said Burnett. "Everyone around here is all smiles and excited. I met with Coach (Mike) Tomlin when I first got here and he asked if I was ready to go to work and I am."

Burnett used his initial practice sessions during the team's mini-camp to keep an eye on the veterans, trying to pick up on every little detail.

"I need to learn from the veterans, soak in everything they have been going through and experiencing," said Burnett. "Being a rookie I am just trying to learn as much as I can."

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      With Larry Foote missing from minicamp linebacker Lawrence Timmons is getting work with the first team. While his repetitions have changed, his approach hasn't.

      "I am taking it day by day trying to get better," said Timmons. "I am just playing football."
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