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Steelers put Super Bowl triumph in past as camp opens

LATROBE, Pa. -- No signs, no pictures, no trophies. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, no looking back, either.

The Steelers reported to training camp Friday one day short of the six-month anniversary of their victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. If they didn't have their championship rings to prove it, it would almost seem like the game wasn't played.

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Just the way coach Mike Tomlin wants it.

"The '08 Steelers are the '08 Steelers," Tomlin said, minutes after his players completed their annual camp-opening run test. "We're here team building for '09."

While other teams might raise large celebratory signs at the training camp, or put the Lombardi Trophy on display for their fans to see up close, the Steelers are barely acknowledging their record sixth Super Bowl title during camp. The just-printed team media guide waits until page 22 to acknowledge it - and then only because it's included in Tomlin's biography.

The media guide cover? The Steelers' team logo displayed against a black background, with no Lombardi in sight.

Wide receiver Hines Ward likes how Tomlin is quickly putting the championship in the past, if only because the 2006 Steelers didn't do so and wound up missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Linebacker James Harrison said those Steelers celebrated well into summer and didn't begin getting focused on the new season -- they started 2-6 -- until it was too late.

"A lot of guys remember what happened," said Ward, who addressed that post-Super Bowl letdown during an evening team meeting. "For us, I don't foresee it being a letdown or anything. We're going to come out here and figure out what kind of core we have, the younger guys and the older guys."

Tomlin isn't slighting what the Steelers accomplished last season, but he apparently wants this team thinking about this season, and nothing else. That's one reason the Steelers' championship ring ceremony was held in June, rather than at training camp as some other Super Bowl winners have done.

"I'm not concerned about avoiding anything that happened three years ago, or worrying about letdowns," Tomlin said. "When you use the term letdown, you're proceeding with the assumption that this is the continuation of something that happened in the past. We're not assuming anything -- that's a dangerous thing to do. We're simply going to be blue collar and humble and start the process of building our team."

Ben Roethlisberger didn't talk to reporters, but that had nothing to do with the recently filed Nevada civil case that accuses him of sexual assault -- the quarterback never talks on reporting day.

While the well-publicized Roethlisberger case threatens to be a distraction if it drags on well into the season, even though he faces no criminal charges, neither Tomlin nor Roethlisberger's teammates expect it to affect his play.

"I have no question about Ben's mindset, or anybody else's mindset. That civil case is just that, it's civil, and we'll assume he's going to handle that business in his personal life," Tomlin said. "We're going to proceed on professionally and the standard of expectation in regards to Ben is the standard of expectation. ... We're just going to focus on football."

Backup quarterback Charlie Batch has talked with Roethlisberger since the lawsuit was filed, and he also doesn't foresee it disrupting the two-time Super Bowl winner or his team. In 2006, much of camp was spent wondering how Roethlisberger would bounce back from his serious motorcycle accident.

"Everybody is expecting him to come in here full speed ahead," Batch said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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