By BOB LABRIOLA
LATROBE – The Steelers' search for a kick returner continues with the arrival of Eddie Drummond, while the dream of playing for his hometown team ended for Jason Capizzi.
The Steelers signed Drummond, 28, a six-year veteran who was not in a training camp this year and last played with Kansas City in 2007. At 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, Drummond also is a receiver, but he has only four catches in 64 career NFL games.
Drummond has returned six kicks for touchdowns – four punts and two kickoffs – all with the Detroit Lions. He has not returned a kick for a touchdown since 2004. Drummond was born in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh.
"We acquired Eddie Drummond, a kick return specialist, who spent most of his time in Detroit and was with Kansas City last year," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We needed a guy in that capacity to add to the competition when we lost Kevin Marion a couple of days back.
"Drummond is a return man who has some special teams background in other areas – being a gunner, covering kickoffs. He's shown he's capable of doing that over the course of his career."
Capizzi, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2007 from IUP, played his high school football in Pine-Richland, which is located in the northern suburb of Gibsonia, Pa. After getting cut by the Steelers on the eve of the regular season, Capizzi spent time on the practice squads of the New York Jets, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. He was re-signed by the Steelers on Jan. 1, 2008 but was inactive for the Wild Card Playoff Game against Jacksonville.
"Jason Capizzi has a foot injury," said Tomlin. "It looks like it's going to require some surgery. He is out."
Tomlin said this injury is related to the stress fracture Capizzi sustained in the spring, and instead of putting him on the injured reserve list the Steelers reached an injury settlement with him.
In between the additions and subtractions to the roster, Tomlin said he was pleased with the events of the day.
"I thought we had a very productive day today," said Tomlin. "We gave them the morning off, but more than just giving them the morning off we provided some therapeutic options. We're getting to that point in training camp where we need to do a nice job of taking care of ourselves, whether it's therapy, aquatic training, weight training, massages, we provided a myriad of things for those guys this morning. They took advantage of it. It was productive for us. We got some guys who had missed some time, some day-to-day guys who got back out there this afternoon. That was a good thing. It was a good, spirited practice, but we're still coming together as a football team. I like where we are."
Tomlin then delivered the day's injury report:
"Travis Kirschke will be back tomorrow. We just gave him a day today, a little preventative, if you will. He was starting to feel a little repercussions in his back. We gave him the day off, and he'll be back tomorrow. Anthony Smith attempted to go, started practice but wasn't able to finish with his groin. He might be more than day-to-day at this point. Bryant McFadden came back successfully, as did James Farrior. Mike Humpal went out with a slight hamstring that might be heat-related. We'll see where he is. Hopefully, he's day-to-day. Everybody else is status quo."
Throughout the early portion of this camp, rookie receiver Limas Sweed has shown himself to be a guy who will make a big play with one opportunity and then drop a ball right to him on the next. Sweed found out on Thursday that he needs glasses.
"The old wide receiver in me, when you see guys struggling to pick up the blur of the ball, that's one of the first things you look at," said Tomlin, who was a receiver in college at William & Mary. "We did. There was a minor issue there, and hopefully it's a winning edge for him. By no means are we going to lean on it. He's got to go out and catch footballs."
Tomlin also has been especially attentive to another rookie – No. 3 pick Bruce Davis. If a coach ignoring a player is a bad sign for that player's chances, Davis has been getting the opposite treatment lately from Tomlin.
"There's a little focus on Bruce right now, because he went to a quarter school, UCLA, and he missed quite a bit of time (during the offseason) because of that," said Tomlin. "He wasn't able to participate due to rules. He's got to hurry up to catch up. He's in the process of doing that, which might require an extra rep or two. He's in great shape, and he's going to need it because he has some ground to make up."
The Friday schedule calls for the first of two night practices during this camp – at 7 p.m. at Latrobe Stadium.
"We're going to go out and be physical, and hopefully give fans something to look at," said Tomlin. "We're going to compete. We got backs-on-backers and blitz-pickup. That'll be the highlight drill of tomorrow's practice. We're going to focus on red zone, make people stand up and defend that precious grass and try to get points down there. We talk about situational football, and the point swing is going to make us great. Defensively, we can't let people put seven on the board. Offensively, if we're going to be great we have to get seven."