Lots of hitting going on at camp
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
By Teresa Varley

Rain washed out the Steelers afternoon practice and forced them inside the gym atSt. Vincent College.

But that didn't mean they missed out on a solid practice.

The team held their first practice of training camp on Tuesday morning and head coach Mike Tomlin wasted no time in letting the players know what practice was going to be like.

"Overall it felt good," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "There was a lot of hitting going on for the first day. It's something to get used to for a lot of guys, but overall this is what camp is going to be like – shoulder pads and a lot of hitting going on. We have a lot of camp ahead of us."

There are 15 two-a-days scheduled for camp this year, with some of the morning practices focusing only on special teams. It's a change for some of the players, but Ward doesn't think it makes it any harder than previous camps.

"Every training camp is hard," said Ward. "There is never an easy training camp. You have to put the preparation in now to establish the foundation you set for the regular season.

"There are more practices now, more hitting going on. But that is what the first week is all about. In OTA's there is no hitting going on and you can't evaluate players if you don't hit. But it is what it is. We have to go out there as players and do what is expected of us and do a lot of hitting."

One of the main changes that Ward has noticed is the structure of practice, the way that Tomlin runs things with a clock on the field showing the time for each session. But overall, the changes aren't severe.

"You have that big clock on the field and any time you look at it – it looks like it isn't going anywhere," said Ward. "Other than that the concept is the same, go out each day and get better."

Another thing that Ward doesn't see changing much is the way the offense does things. He knows the bread and butter will always be a strong running game, but it's going to take on a different look.

"Willie Parker is our running back and he is going to be our feature guy," said Ward. "There are going to be different formations, going four wide, there are going to be a lot of options for Ben (Roethlisberger) to have. We aren't a run-and-shoot team. We are still going to run the ball; we are just going to do it in different formations."