By Teresa Varley
Hines Ward didn't take part in the team's first practice on Friday, but that didn't mean he stood idle the entire time.
Ward used his down time to help out the team's rookie receivers, including number two pick Limas Sweed.
"It helped out," said Sweed. "Hines and Santonio (Holmes) gave me some good advice. They told me to just play ball."
Sweed put their words to good use and felt like he had a good first practice.
"I got the assignments right," said Sweed. "I feel like I did for the first day. A lot of stuff was thrown at me. I feel like I handled the information effectively."
Fullback Carey Davis knows he will be spending time blocking for Willie Parker this year, but he also should get the chance to pave the way for a fellow Illini back in Rashard Mendenhall.
"I look forward to blocking for whoever is back there," said Davis. "I think we have very good running backs who are capable of making plays. I would love to be the one blocking for them."
While the two never played together at Illinois, Davis is familiar with the team's number one draft pick.
"I watched him last year. He did a pretty good job," said Davis. "It was exciting to see him out there playing.
"It's going to be fun to see what he is capable of doing once we get out here. And him being an Illini like myself is going to be good. I'm excited."
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When the Steelers drafted Dennis Dixon in the fifth-round the question immediately came up – will he take on the same kind of role that Kordell Stewart did early in his career? Stewart played receiver while waiting his turn at quarterback, but it doesn't appear that Dixon is headed for that kind of role.
"From what I have heard they are not bringing him in to be a receiver or Slash," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "They want him to be a quarterback and learn from Charlie (Batch) and I and see what happens. I enjoyed watching him at Oregon. I thought he was great."
Even though they won't be using him as a receiver, there is a lot of potential for the young quarterback which is why the Steelers drafted him.
"He has great physical talent," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "He can run, he has a strong arm and he is coming to a great situation where he can grow behind two people like Ben and Charlie. It is going to be a great situation for him."