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Holmes set to return punts this week


By Teresa Varley

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be among those returning punts on Saturday night when the Steelers take on the Minnesota Vikings.
Holmes hasn't returned punts in a regular-season game since his rookie year, but he welcomes the opportunity.

"I'm a little bit excited. I'm a little nervous at the same time because I haven't done it in over a year," said Holmes. "But I think once the first punt comes back, I'll be alright.

"I think I can handle punts pretty well. It's a different phase of the game that allows me to be more of a football player. It allows me to make plays."

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      Justin Hartwig will start at center against the Vikings as the battle at the center spot is still ongoing between him and Sean Mahan.

Mahan started in the preseason opener against the Eagles, with Hartwig getting the call against the Bills.
Head coach Mike Tomlin is going back to Hartwig as he has had fewer reps with the starters since Mahan was the team's center last season.
"We will continue with that this week to give him another opportunity to get some good cohesion with those guys," said Tomlin. "It is easier for Sean because they have 17-20 games dating back to last year to get an understanding between him and Kendall (Simmons) and so forth. We feel like in order to get a better evaluation, Hartwig needs more time."
Tomlin is hoping to make a decision on who will start before the final preseason game.

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Quarterback Charlie Batch was at practice again on Tuesday, but this time without the sling he wore a few days earlier.
Batch began his rehab on Tuesday and was already feeling better.

"I feel pretty good right now," Batch said, who was expected to miss four-to-six weeks after suffering the broken collarbone against the Philadelphia Eagles. "I always felt I would be back before the timetable anyway. I always have whenever I had anything done before. But you want to err on the side of caution."


Tomlin will make his first return to Minnesota where he served as the team's defensive coordinator in 2006, prior to being hired as the Steelers head coach.
"It is an exciting trip for me because I have some good friends there," said Tomlin. "Although I wasn't there for a great deal of time, it felt good to be a part of what we were building there. I thought that it was going to be potentially special.
"I root for those guys because they are close personal friends of mine. It is professional of course on Saturday night, but it will be great to see them all – players, coaches and front office people."

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