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05-01-2010, 03:10 AM
Harrison misses first mini-camp practice

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April 30th, 2010 The Steelers opened mini camp today with two notable absences: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and outside linebacker James Harrison.

Roethlisberger is not allowed to practice with the Steelers until training camp at the earliest because of a league suspension. Harrison is missing practice because of the death of an uncle.

Attendance at mini camp practices is mandatory.

Coach Mike Tomlin will address Harrison's absence when he speaks to reporters after afternoon practice.

Here are some other notes and observations from the morning practice:

• Wide receiver Hines Ward walked gingerly following the morning session after hurting his left hamstring or calf. He didn’t seem too concerned about the injury.

“I think the ground gave out,” Ward said.

• Byron Leftwich ran the first-team offense while Dennis Dixon led the second team and Charlie Batch worked with the third team this morning. The three are competing to start at quarterback while Roethlisberger is serving his suspension.

One of the players will be effectively eliminated from the competition by the end of offseason practices. Tomlin has said Roethlisberger and two of the three competing for the starting job right now will get the bulk of the work during training camp.

• It apparently did not take long for Bryant McFadden to re-claim his former spot atop the depth chart.

McFadden worked at the cornerback spot opposite Ike Taylor with the first-team defense. When the Steelers went to a nickel defense, William Gay came in as the extra cornerback.

• Trai Essex ran with the first-team offense at right guard.

Among those Essex will have to hold off to keep his starting job are recent first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey.