8/5 Steelers Practice Report
I was able to make an appearance at camp today, but missed the goalline drill at the end. The weather was nice, as there was not a cloud in the sky after what started as an extremely humid week. Ben Roethlisberger was the first player out of the locker room and the last player on the practice field, as he stopped and signed numerous autographs for the plentiful spectators lining the walkway to the St. Vincent practice facility. My pictures from the practice are located HERE.
Both Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch showed off their accurate and strong arms with minimal mistakes for the early afternoon crowd. Omar Jacobs threw an interception across the middle in 7-on-7 drills, but was otherwise mistake free. Charlie Batch and Omar Jacobs worked on the center-quarterback exchange prior to practice with Chukky Okobi and Marvin Philip respectively. Shane Boyd showed off his mobility once again, running the ball well in 11-on-11 drills.
Willie Parker and Duce Staley once again rotated with the first team. Verron Haynes also got some reps with the starters, albeit not as many. Parker, Staley, Haynes, and Cedric Humes all looked good running the ball today. Each showed ability to hit their lane and utilize their speed to get to the outside. On one run during 11-on-11 drills Parker went downfield untouched, gaining about 30 yards before Troy Polamalu nudged him out of bounds. Parker also spent his time during the special teams drills working on his hands with Santonio Holmes. Staley was particularly active catching passes and without a doubt had more repetitions as a receiver than any of the other backs.
Hines Ward sat out practice and Nate Washington started opposite Cedrick Wilson as the split end. Both Wilson and Washington had an excellent practice. Wilson displayed his ability to go up and come back for the ball, while Washington showed off his speed going over the top. The play of the day was a bomb by Roethlisberger to Washington over top of Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark. Wilson also beat DeShea Townsend and Troy Polamalu deep on a route during 7-on-7 drills. Sean Morey was the first wide receiver on the field before practice and immediately headed for the JUGS machine. He made some remarkable catches during practice, as he continued to line up after Santonio Holmes and before Willie Reid in the rotation. Holmes, as mentioned before, worked on his hands with Willie Parker during special teams drills. He had a terrific practice, catching everything thrown his way and spinning around defenders leaving them grasping air. It appears that Ken Whisenhunt has big plans for Willie Reid. Reid has had the ball in his hands on every trick play I have seen the Steelers run in camp, taking the ball outside on reverses in nearly every practice. He has also been sensational as a receiver.
The tight ends lined up against the linebackers today in a blocking drill. Tight ends coach James Daniel praised Jonathan Dekker on his blocking. Dekker is quietly having an exceptional camp. He and Arnold Harrison had a war of words after the squared off in the blocking drill, which Dekker won. Heath Miller showed off his blocking ability, dropping two backers in the drill. The fans on the hillside went wild, as Miller manhandled his opponents. He did lose one match up to Clark Haggans early in the drill, however. Jerame Tuman won his match up with Haggans and caught a nice pass down the seam later in practice.
As mentioned before, Chukky Okobi and Marvin Philip worked on their center-quarterback exchanges before practice. Okobi also worked with Chris Hoke on picking up his man after the snap. For the most part, the offensive line was working out on the opposite field and out of my view.
Aside from the aforementioned work between Chris Hoke and Chukky Okobi, there is little to report on the offensive line. Marvel Smith spent a large portion of practice working on his backpedal.
Clark Haggans and James Harrison had the most success in the tight end-linebacker blocking drill. Haggans was halted by Jerame Tuman, but succeeded against Heath Miller. Arnold Harrison and Jonathan Dekker got into each other’s faces after a heated showdown in front of both position coaches and Bill Cowher. Joey Porter received a loud cheer from the crowd, as he observed the drill.
Bryant McFadden made the lone interception of the day, returning an Omar Jacobs pass for a touchdown. Ryan Clark started at safety opposite Troy Polamalu, while Ricardo Colclough and Bryant McFadden played in the dime.
Special teams practice took place on the far field from me. I have nothing to report.