08/19/10 — Greg Warren ready for return to Steeler lineup

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Greg Warren ready for return to Steeler lineup

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM

Greg Warren's anticipation is comparable to a child on Christmas morning.

He returns to the Pittsburgh Steelers lineup this season after a pair of devastating knee injuries cost him the better part of two seasons.

"I am really excited and my knee feels a little better each day that I run on it," said Warren, a long snapper who starred at Southern Wayne. "I feel like I am able to do almost all of the things that I was doing before the injury."

Warren had started 55 games dating back to his rookie season in 2005 prior to the Steelers meeting with the New York Giants in October of 2008. While trying to cover a kick, Warren raced toward the ball carrier and got tangled up with a Giant blocker.

The play resulted in a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) for Warren and subsequent surgery. He recovered from what he called "a tear worse than most" and appeared poised to re-enter the ranks of the NFL's top special-teams performers.

Warren suffered a second knee injury in 2009 -- this time against the Green Bay Packers. He spent the remainder of the season on injured reserve.

"It was hard to go through something like that two years in a row," said Warren. "Hopefully, it's behind me now and I can refocus on playing football and helping make Pittsburgh the best team it can be."

Along with his normal course of rehab, Warren spent the summer giving back to football players in eastern North Carolina. He made an appearance at a clinic for snappers and kickers at East Carolina University, and completed the trip with his own camp on the Mount Olive Hurricanes' field.

A former Hurricane player, Warren has made an immeasurable impact on the sport that he loves in his home town. The youth football field, which is now fully equipped with lights and a press box, was made possible thanks to a donation from Warren.

As much as he enjoys his time in Wayne County, Warren's focus in the coming weeks will be his second home, the city of Pittsburgh, where the Steelers get ready for regular-season play to begin. The team opens Sept. 12 at home against Atlanta.

Warren, who is entering a contract year, has made his affection for the Pittsburgh organization widely known ever since the team gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent.

"I have a contract through this season, so it's not something that I have put a lot of thought into yet," said Warren. "I need to focus on having a good year and helping the team win games, and if I do that the rest of the off the field stuff will fall into place."

Regarded as one of the NFL's best run organizations, the Steelers have a history of success that is unmatched. With a roller-coaster summer, which included quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's arrest, in the rearview mirror the team is doing everything it can to field a team up to its own dominant standards.

Roethlisberger will be sidelined for the first month of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

"All the guys are rallying around Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, and we are trying to see who will give us the best chance to win in our system," said Warren. "Obviously every team wants to win the Super Bowl and that is a lofty goal, but I think we have just as good a chance as anyone."