By John Harris
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
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Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes hasn't returned a punt in a regular-season game since his rookie campaign in 2006. It's why he's looking forward to having an opportunity to return punts in Saturday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"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," Holmes said Tuesday. "But I think once the first punt comes back, I'll be alright."
Coach Mike Tomlin said Holmes is developing so well as a receiver that he felt comfortable allowing Holmes to return punts. Holmes averaged 10.2 yards per return and had a 65-yard touchdown two years ago.
"It's not about you catching the ball, because I treat every punt like it's a deep ball so I can catch it pretty much with one hand," Holmes said. "I try to put a lot of trust in the guys up front that they can block the guys like they're supposed to and they can leave the rest up to me."
• Linebacker James Farrior said the Steelers will treat their third preseason game more like a regular-season contest.
"We're getting all the looks that we need in practice. Going into this third game is going to be more like gametime preparation," said Farrior, who expects to see more action against the Vikings. "We're starting to get into our in-season mode when we're starting to look at tape. We're game-planning a little bit. We've got all of our game preparation stuff like it's in-season, simulating a regular game week."
• Coach Mike Tomlin said Justin Hartwig will start his second consecutive game at center. Sean Mahan, who started all 16 games last season, started the preseason opener against Philadelphia. Hartwig was signed as a free agent this offseason. He started last week's game against Buffalo.
• Safety Ryan Mundy (ankle) and linebacker Mike Humpal (stinger) did not practice and probably won't play against Minnesota. Tight end Cody Boyd (shoulder) was limited in practice.
75 -- Roster limit after the Steelers make first cuts next Tuesday
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