By BOB LABRIOLA
Friday was reporting day for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and after some dancing around with Coach Mike Tomlin in his initial news conference during this 2009 training camp, the topic finally got around to the guy who never was here.
The Michael Vick to the Steelers rumors began about a week ago with ESPN's Chris Mortensen identifying the Steelers as a good spot for the former Falcons quarterback, and things reached a crescendo on Friday when a caller to a local talk show identified himself as a cab driver who said he had picked Vick up at Pittsburgh International Airport and driven him to the Steelers practice facility.
Tomlin chuckled when the topic finally was broached.
"I don't know whether he was in Pittsburgh or not," said Tomlin, "but I'm in Latrobe and everybody else in our organization is as well."
Then Tomlin added, "Here's the thing: I'm not going to address directly any potential free agents. That would be fruitless. The list could go on and on, be endless. We'll be prudent and do our due diligence in exploring people who could potentially help us win – guys who can throw, run, catch, block and tackle on a professional level. That's what we do."
But, Tomlin was asked, what of the fact that he and Vick both grew up in the same area in Virginia, and that Tony Dungy, who has taken on an advisory role for Vick, has such a solid relationship with the Steelers organization and with Tomlin?
"(Connecting the dots), that's relevant for conversation," said Tomlin, "but I'm just focused on the Steelers who are here and what we have going on, and not interested in discussing potential free agents."
The Steelers who are at Saint Vincent College for this camp arrived in good shape and ready for what Tomlin refers to as team-building for 2009. The requirements for the day included the running test, which Tomlin considers part of the procedure for reporting to camp.
"I was very pleased, quite frankly, with the running test," said Tomlin. "Everybody was above the line."
Last year, Casey Hampton was unable to complete the running test and Tomlin responded by putting him on the physically unable to perform list until he got himself into better physical condition. There were no such issues this year, with Hampton or with anyone else.
"I was curious," said Tomlin. "You're always curious about the big men, and Casey's probably the biggest of the big men. It starts inside and up front, and by the nature of his position, that's where he is. But he did a nice job, as did a lot of the other guys."
Having dealt with the Vick rumors and Hampton's physical condition, Tomlin also was asked whether he had any concerns about Ben Roethlisberger's mind-set in light of the civil suit filed against him by Andrea McNulty.
"I have no question about Ben's mind-set, or anybody else's mind-set for that matter," said Tomlin. "That civil case is just that – it's civil. We'll assume he's going to handle that business in his personal life, and we're going to proceed professionally. The standard of expectation for Ben is the standard of expectation. I would imagine he's not the only guy on our football team who has a civil proceeding of some kind going on in his life. We're just going to focus on football."
And the football part of this camp begins on Saturday with two practices, the second of which is scheduled to begin at 2:55 p.m. and will be open to the public.
STEELERS NOTES: Stefan Logan will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list with a mid-foot sprain that occurred while he was in training for camp. "He's capable of running straight ahead," said Tomlin, "but some of the things associated with playing football – unanticipated change of direction and things like that – he's not ready to go."
Tomlin also said five other players coming back from minor injuries will start off slowly. Justin Hartwig is dealing with a toe injury that occurred a month ago; Deshea Townsend and Troy Polamalu have mild hamstring strains; Heath Miller had surgery early in the summer for a sports hernia; and Darnell Stapleton will be monitored, especially on days where there are two practices, because of some swelling in his knee.