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Super Bowl hangover? Packers, Steelers in no hurry to hit field

Either the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers know something that numerous others in the NFL don't, or they're simply comfortable with taking a risk that they might not be as prepared as necessary whenever the 2011 season gets a green light.

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As the most recent Super Bowl participants, they automatically command a higher level of respect than the rest of the league. But even before squaring off for the Lombardi Trophy last February, both teams were widely recognized for mostly doing things right.

So why aren't the Packers and Steelers among the many teams whose players have organized their own practices during the lockout? Why -- instead of the small periodic gatherings that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had with his receivers and a few linemen and the Packers' offensive linemen getting together -- aren't these examples of NFL excellence getting the sort of impressive numbers that other player-run sessions are attracting?

The New England Patriots had between 40 and 50 offensive and defensive players on hand for a Wednesday practice. The Carolina Panthers had about 50, from both sides of the ball, show up for a Tuesday workout that they apparently felt was serious enough to keep out the prying eyes of the media.

On the other hand, the Steelers' defenders haven't done a bit of group work on their own. And as far as they're concerned, it is, in fact, the right thing to do, especially for a unit with an aging core.

"This time's been good for healing of your bodies," veteran safety Ryan Clark told the *Pittsburgh Post-Gazette*. "The mental part? We know how to play football. We know how to run Cover 3. That dog blitz will still be deadly. We'll be fine."

Will they? And how about the Packers, who have a much younger roster and, presumably, a greater need for some level of team-oriented drills?

It's notable that an increasing number of teams have seen a rising number of participants in player-only workouts because this is the time of year when team-supervised sessions are in full gear.

For the most part, players followed their typical routines of relaxing through most of February and then working out on their own through March and April. Group sessions started to begin in earnest in May. They are expected to be held through at least the early part of this month as players get a better sense of how court rulings will impact the timetable for the start of the season, which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and multiple owners insist will begin as scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Packers and Steelers are taking a different approach. Only time will tell if it's the right one.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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