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Rookie Pouncey emerges, so Steelers release center Hartwig

PITTSBURGH -- Justin Hartwig, the Steelers' starting center the past two seasons, was cut Saturday after the team failed to work out a trade for him.

Hartwig, due to make $2.080 million this season, was beaten out by first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey. The rookie was expected to play right guard this season, but he settled in at center sooner than anticipated and started in the final two preseason games.

Also cut were Stefan Logan, the primary kickoff and punt returner last season; offensive lineman Kraig Urbik, a third-round pick in 2009; cornerback Joe Burnett; fullback Frank Summers; defensive linemen Sunny Harris; Steve McLendon and Doug Worthington; linebacker Patrick Bailey; wide receiver Tyler Grisham and safety Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith.

Quarterback Byron Leftwich is on the 53-man opening-day roster, although he might be out for a month after straining a left knee ligament during the Thursday night preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.

The moves mean the Steelers will keep six wide receivers, an unusually high number for them, and eight rookies. Worthington, a seventh-round pick from Ohio State, was the only rookie cut. Rookie offensive lineman Chris Scott earlier went on the physically unable to perform list.

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Logan was signed out of the CFL last season and set a team single-season record for kickoff-return yardage, but he didn't break any punts or kickoffs for touchdowns. While he was tried at wide receiver, his inability to adequately play another position also led to him being cut.

Burnett, a fifth-round pick last season, was bypassed by rookie Crezdon Butler. Burnett played little last season, although he dropped a potential interception that allowed the Oakland Raiders to go on and score the winning touchdown in Pittsburgh last season. Summers, another fifth-round pick in 2009, played in two games last season before going on season-ending injured reserve with a back injury.

Bailey was the Steelers' rookie of the year in 2008, when they won the Super Bowl with almost no contribution from their rookie class.

Some of the players cut will be added to the practice squad Sunday once they clear waivers.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn't count against the 53-man roster limit while he sits out his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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