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Steelers beating the bushes

Written by Dan Gigler on .


. . . FOR A KICK RETURNER

Ed Bouchette checks in from Day 5 of Steelers training camp:

Maybe Santonio Holmes was right that he does not think Mike Tomlin wants him to return punts. This morning, veteran kick returner Eddie Drummond worked out for the Steelers at Saint Vincent College.

Drummond, a Pittsburgh native who played at Penn State, has been an unrestricted free agent since March after he spent the past season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played his first five seasons in Detroit after he went undrafted in 2002.

Are they serious about signing him? They have a roster spot open after making three moves this week – placing Daniel Sepulveda on injured reserve, claiming punter Paul Ernster off waivers from Detroit and waiving (injured) wide receiver Kevin Marion.

Even though they knew they switched punter for punter on the roster, they had to make room for Ernster on Tuesday because when they claimed him they had to have an open spot and they still weren’t sure about Sepulveda’s MRI that day. That’s why they waived Marion, but he wasn’t going to make the team anyway.

By the way, you can waive an injured player as long as you come to an injury settlement with him.

Drummond is 28 but it seems as though his best seasons are far behind him. His best season came in 2004 when he made the Pro Bowl after returning two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns. He was injured that year and never has been the same.

Drummond attended the Linsly School, a private boarding school in Wheeling, W.Va.

Holmes this week said while he’d love to return punts, he does not think Tomlin really wants him to do so.

“I doubt if the opportunity will be there,’’ Holmes said. “He still wants me to be the leader of the receiving group, so that’s my focal point this year.’’

Even though Holmes averaged 10.2 yards per punt return in 2006, including one touchdown, he returned none last season.

. . . AND A PUNTER

Having one former punter from Cleveland may not be enough because yesterday, the Steelers worked out another at Saint Vincent College.

They put one punter on injured reserve (Daniel Sepulveda), claimed another off waivers from Detroit (Paul Ernster) and Wednesday they worked out veteran Scott Player, 38.

Player has been with five different teams since he broke into the league in 1996 after spending one year in the old World League. He’s been with the giants, Jets, Cardinals, Browns and Patriots.

The Patriots cut him in June after signing earlier in the year. Ernster also has played for the Browns.

. . . JEFF REED TO BE REPLACED?

Ernster has a leg up on other punters the Steelers might consider because he can kick off and has done so 75 times in the NFL. If he stays with the Steelers, they may use him to kick off instead of Jeff Reed.

They love Reed as a placekicker and he had his best season in 2008 when he missed just two tries, one from 65 yards and one in the muck against Miami. But his kickoffs still are not strong, which is somewhat of a mystery because he has a strong leg. Reed told me last year that it’s a technique thing and he worked on it and last year actually started out with good, deep kickoffs but they shortened considerably as the season wore on.

COPE, GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Longtime Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope would love this one – they still have a parking spot reserved for him next to Saint Benedict Hall at Saint Vincent College for training camp.

Cope, who died Feb. 27 at age 79, had been retired from his job as color man since after the 2004 season and had not been to camp.

Cope’s is among a handful of parking spaces reserved for Steelers executives such as Dan Rooney, Art Rooney and Kevin Colbert. The sign, in black and gold, reads simply “Reserved Parking For: Myron Cope.”

It likely is someone’s way at the college to erect a small memorial to the most famous member of the media in Pennsylvania who stayed many training camps in a Saint Vincent dorm room with others in his profession – with no air conditioning and a fan in his window.

STEELERS GOING GREEN – INCORRECTLY

Next to Cope’s reserved parking spot is one for another legend who is still working for the Steelers. Joe Greene is a special assistant for colleges and pros on the Steelers scouting staff. He was Chuck Noll’s first draft pick, he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he was voted the best player in Steelers history.

His sign reads “Reserved Parking For: Joe Green.’’

Even if they can’t spell his name, he still has a parking spot.

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