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Timmons expected to resume practice next week

LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons, limited to three practice days since being the 15th player selected in the April draft, is expected to resume practicing next week.

Timmons, an outside linebacker from Florida State, initially hurt his groin on the first day of a mandatory minicamp May 11. He took part in the first two days of training camp last month, but has been out since the discomfort and swelling in the groin returned on July 26.

When the pain persisted into this week, the Steelers sent Timmons to Philadelphia on Wednesday to visit Dr. Bill Meyers - a groin and abdominal specialist who has treated numerous NFL, NBA, NHL and college players. Timmons was told he doesn't have a tear or a sports hernia, an injury that can sideline an athlete for an extended period.

"We're comfortable with what we heard," coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday.

Timmons was expected to press for playing time at right outside linebacker, where former backup James Harrison has replaced one-time Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter, who is now with Miami. Timmons has fallen behind due to his lack of practice time, not only in camp but during the team's voluntary spring workouts, but Tomlin said he has enough time to catch up.

"Obviously, he's behind," Tomlin said. "But he's a smart guy, a talented guy. He has a chance to make it up."

All the Steelers fell slightly behind Thursday. The scheduled morning practice at their Saint Vincent College training camp was washed out by a heavy thunderstorm and, with the four practice fields drenched, Tomlin ordered everyone onto buses for a one-hour trip to the team's indoor complex in Pittsburgh.

Even there, the weather affected them - another storm caused power to go out briefly.

"We've been presented with a little bit of adversity, which is good and it's part of us developing as a team," Tomlin said. "The weather provided that adversity for us and will give us an opportunity to respond to it."

Because the Steelers are playing an extra preseason game, Tomlin has the luxury of spreading out playing time over five games rather than four. He expects the regulars to play a couple of series Saturday night against Green Bay, as they did in the Steelers' 20-7 Hall of Fame game victory over the Saints, though some played up to a half on Sunday.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may get an extra series after playing one against the Saints, leading an 80-play touchdown drive that required only six plays.

"Bruce (Arians, the offensive coordinator) and I talk about it a little bit, but it's always going to be coach's call," Roethlisberger said. "He asks if I want to go an extra series and I tell him, `Whatever.' If he wanted me too, if my line stayed in there, I'd do it."

Tomlin will change some starters against Green Bay. Willie Colon will start at right tackle for Max Starks, who will again play both tackle positions. Sean Mahan, the Steelers' only major offseason free agent pickup, will start at center in place of Chukky Okobi.

Okobi hurt his back in practice Wednesday, but the injury is minor and he could get some snaps against the Packers.

Also, Chris Kemoeatu will start at left guard for Alan Faneca (shoulder). Tomlin hasn't decided on starters at right cornerback (Bryant McFadden or Deshea Townsend) or free safety (Ryan Clark or Anthony Smith).

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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