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Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (left) races alongside safety Troy Polamalu during a 40-yard sprint during the run test on Saturday at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. The blur effect is created by tracking the subject with a slower shutter speed.

It’s easy to see why the Pittsburgh Steelers will be defending a Super Bowl championship.

Seventy-six players took part in the training camp run tests Saturday at St. Vincent, and only one couldn’t finish.

“I think the group stood out,” said Steelers coach Bill Cowher. “The fact that there was some heat, I was very impressed with the group as a whole.

“Every one of those guys, they all finished. (Except) Marvin Allen, who just came here from Europe. He never took the test before, but he tried. Everyone else finished the test and I thought that was very important.”

A big question mark heading into the grueling 40-yard dashes – 14 of them – was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to run without trouble stemming from his June 12 motorcycle accident.

He answered the question.

“I feel ready to get out there,” he said. “As of right now, I plan on going out there and having fun. I plan on giving it my all every time. I feel normal, I feel good. I feel worn down, but I think all those guys are too. ... I feel like I’m sharp as a tack.”

Roethlisberger was grouped with left tackle Marvel Smith and rookie defensive end Orien Harris. Cowher said it was a move to keep his star quarterback from trying to out-run other QBs or “fast guys.”

After the final sprint to the 40, the tradition is to race back to the goal line. The youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl certainly didn’t win the race against the linemen.

“I think it was a photo finish,” said Roethlisberger of his loss to Smith.

The 24-year-old Roethlisberger is anxious to gauge himself with the football now that the run tests are out of the way.

“It felt good to get it done with, obviously,” he said. “It was important for me to get out there and show the guys that I’m here. Some of the guys said to me: ‘You don’t have to go out and prove anything to us.’ It was important for me to get out there and show the guys and the coaches that I’m out here and I’m going to give it my all.

“Now it’s time for football. Now that we’re done with this, (today) we get to get out and throw the football around.”

The Steelers will hold their first practice of training camp this afternoon at 1.

Linebacker Joey Porter, nose tackle Casey Hampton, who “tweaked” a hamstring last week according to Cowher, and right tackle Max Starks (knee surgery) were among the nine players allowed to skip the run tests.

Starks didn’t think he needed them anyway.

“There’s no rush,” he said. “They wanted to be careful and cautious. Plus, they know I’m in shape.”

First-round draft pick Santonio Holmes ran well enough to almost say it was easy.

“I wouldn’t say it was a piece of cake,” he said, “but at the same time, I prepared myself pretty well. I have trained myself well in Pittsburgh and I felt good.”

The receiver from Ohio State is excited to start playing football and put his past behind him – even though he has a court date scheduled for the near future.

“It feels great to be a Steeler,” he said. “Right now, I’m looking forward to enjoying camp and getting ready to start the season.”

Holmes – who denied allegations he failed to return a phone call from Roethlisberger this summer – plans to be in camp on Aug. 15, the date of his next court appearance in Columbus, Ohio.

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