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Steelers notebook

Roethlisberger singing a new tune

Ben Roethlisberger insisted he and his offensive linemen weren’t out past curfew, as TMZ.com claimed. Ben Roethlisberger insisted he and his offensive linemen weren’t out past curfew, as TMZ.com claimed. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / February 4, 2011

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FORT WORTH — In light of the accusations made against him, the stories of his behavior in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, and the fact that he served a four-game suspension and underwent NFL-mandated counseling, everything Ben Roethlisberger does is heavily scrutinized.

So it caused a bit of a stir yesterday when the gossip website TMZ.com posted a grainy video of Roethlisberger and some of his offensive linemen at a Dallas-area piano bar, singing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man’’ loudly and off-key.

Along with the video was a news item that stated Roethlisberger had bought several rounds of drinks for everyone in the bar, and that he was out until 1:15 a.m. Wednesday. The Steelers’ curfew is 1 a.m.

But any notion that Roethlisberger was reverting to his old ways — during Super Bowl week, of all times — was quickly squashed.

“I am not concerned about that one iota,’’ said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s normal for guys to eat dinner, believe it or not, every now and then during the course of the week leading up to a game.

“I understand that some things may be reported and viewed differently, but that’s not our concern. During the course of the season, on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, believe it or not, guys have lives.’’

Roethlisberger said he treated his linemen to dinner at the restaurant of their choice Tuesday night, something he does often during the regular season.

“It was superstition and tradition,’’ said Roethlisberger. “Tuesday night, I take my linemen out to dinner, and we went to a great barbecue spot. We went there and wanted to listen to some live music, so we went to a piano bar. We had an enjoyable night.’’

Roethlisberger disputed TMZ’s claim of how late he was out.

“I heard the crack TMZ staff that they are, they know their facts that I was out past [curfew], but really we were home way before curfew,’’ he said.

Safety Ryan Clark came to Roethlisberger’s defense, calling TMZ’s television show “terrible’’ and wondering whether the media have run out of stories about Roethlisberger — “especially when you’re as reputable and as high-class and as morally strong as TMZ.’’

Time running out Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey again missed practice because of a high left ankle sprain. Pouncey insisted that as long as he practices today, he’ll play in the Super Bowl, but it may not be that simple.

“He is on a running clock, particularly because of his youth,’’ Tomlin said. “Snaps are needed from a preparation standpoint, in order to be able to play from a standard. We’ll see where it takes us. I know he’s been aggressive in terms of attacking his rehab.’’

After practice at Texas Christian’s Sam Baugh indoor facility, Tomlin told pool reporter Peter King that Pouncey was “getting to the witching hour. He’s going to have to show us something very soon.’’

Things also aren’t looking good for veteran defensive lineman Aaron Smith, who is working his way back from a torn triceps suffered in October. Smith was listed as limited in practice.

Talking the talk The expiring collective bargaining agreement and possibility of a lockout, as well as the fines commissioner Roger Goodell levied on linebacker James Harrison and others, have been topics of many interviews this week, and players such as Harrison, Hines Ward, and Mike Wallace have spoken out about their opposition to the proposed 18-game regular season.

But they aren’t using this time to take advantage of the forum they’ve been given, at least according to Tomlin. In yet another show of why his players respect him so much, Tomlin gave as no-nonsense an answer as possible when asked about the Steelers’ perceived outspokenness.

“I don’t think that they are using this forum to be overly critical of anything,’’ Tomlin said. “I just think they are simply doing what they are called on to do, which is answer questions.

“The reality is that these young men come here every day with the intentions of preparing for the game. In the midst of that, they’re asked to stand at podiums and field questions, and I think they are simply doing that.

“Whatever’s said is said, but I don’t think there is an agenda in regards to those things.’’

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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