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Thread: Tough, full-pads first practice gets team's attention in a hurry

          
   
   
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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Tough, full-pads first practice gets team's attention in a hurry

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07206/804174-66.stm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Football practice was tough, physical, long, fast-paced, unprecedented, perhaps. And then it rained.

    Mike Tomlin's first practice as the Steelers' head coach proved more than its billing when he put the team through what many believe was the most physical practice session at Saint Vincent College since the days of Chuck Noll.

    No one could remember a tougher camp practice in Bill Cowher's 15 years as coach, not even a player who was with Cowher from the get-go.

    "That was pretty tough, pret-ty tough," said former linebacker Levon Kirkland, a Steelers rookie in 1992 who is spending this week as a scouting intern with the team. "I'm sure the guys who have been here under Cowher are used to a certain way. You do it that way it's kind of tough. Makes you wonder what the evening practice will be about."

    The afternoon practice turned into an indoors walk-through on a basketball court because a thunderstorm passed through Latrobe just before the players were to take the field. Nevertheless, that brutal morning session will stay fresh in their minds for a long time.

    "Coach Cowher's not here anymore. We're doing it the way coach Tomlin's doing it," Hines Ward said. "He wants to prove to everybody he can be a great coach and he has a set way with the team. If you don't like it, get off the ship."

    Nobody was jumping after the first day, although it was hard to find any players jumping for joy, either, after spending a morning in full pads. Previously, they would not have had practice on that first morning and, when they did practice, it would be in lighter pads called shells.

    "Being here for 10 years, the morning practice is normally just shells, kind of more talking and running," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "Now, it's a little more contact. It's part of the game. It's still football. Guys will get used to it, but it's going to be tougher than years past."

    The two-hour morning session began with some stretching and light special-teams work. Then came the 'backers-on-backs drill, where a pass-rushing linebacker tries to get through a block by a running back. It's as live as they go. Later, they moved to what they call 9 on 7, although it actually was 9 on 9. It's also called the middle drill, because backs run up the middle play after play. It looked like a live goal-line practice only it lasted longer.

    "It's a good wake-up call," center Chukky Okobi said. "If you weren't awake, after that period you should be good to go."

    Later, Tomlin gathered his team together for some 11 on 11 that was as live as anything except for tackling and went on for 20 minutes to close practice.

    "That's the definition of a morning practice around here now, I guess," Okobi said.

    The more strenuous practice session carried a message no doubt the coach wanted to deliver, and it came across clearly.

    "It kind of sets the tone for what coach Tomlin is going to be like and what he wants for us," said safety Ryan Clark, who played for the Washington Redskins before joining the Steelers last year. "I think the biggest thing is you want to kind of leave your imprint on the team. Now we know what he's about. He's about being physical, being focused, getting to the ball on defense and executing the offense. I think it was a good start."

    Tomlin did not have much comment on the morning practice, except to say that it was productive, upbeat, crisp. He mentioned the botched snaps (between Okobi and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on one, center Sean Mahan and Charlie Batch on the other) and some offside plays. The new coach seemed more impressed by the afternoon walkthrough and how players overcame the disappointment of not being able to go through another grueling practice.

    "It's a mental-toughness exercise, because it's tough when you get ready to take the field and suit up and go out for an afternoon practice the first day of training camp and you get dealt a hand like they got dealt today. Their ability to deal with it and get some production out of what we had to do defined us. I like the way they got after it."

    Today's another day, with two more practices scheduled. The morning practice is set for one hour -- unless the new coach wants to make up for lost time. It looks like the making of a long, intriguing training camp.

    I love this quote from Hines...

    "Coach Cowher's not here anymore. We're doing it the way coach Tomlin's doing it," Hines Ward said. "He wants to prove to everybody he can be a great coach and he has a set way with the team. If you don't like it, get off the ship."

    We're not in Kansas any more Dorothy

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    Starter DIESELMAN's Avatar
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    "That was pretty tough, pret-ty tough," said former linebacker Levon Kirkland
    Coming from Levon, that says a lot. Tomlin definitely making the Steelers his team. Good stuff to hear, this kind of camp will make us lean and mean for the season.


    If you don’t stand behind our troops.....Please feel free to stand in front of them!!!


    "Give me a 6 pack, half hour of rest and lets go play them again....We can beat them."
    --Jack Lambert

    "They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're the champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
    --Joe Greene

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    "That was pretty tough, pret-ty tough," said former linebacker Levon Kirkland, a Steelers rookie in 1992 who is spending this week as a scouting intern with the team. "I'm sure the guys who have been here under Cowher are used to a certain way. You do it that way it's kind of tough. Makes you wonder what the evening practice will be about."
    I get more and more pumped eveyday when I read this stuff.

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    BIG FAT ARKIESTEEL
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    Please coach dont hrt them before the season

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    Let's kick some ***!!!
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    Draft Pick manofsteel's Avatar
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    Cowher camps were tough but not TOUGH. This will have the team working at a faster speed when it comes for game time. They Steelers have always been a secong half team. Maybe this will wake them up and have them not being so slugish in the first half. Its all about speed, endurance, stamina and how much you can take and how far to the edge you can go. Well tough camps will make any rookie or Vet better in those categories.

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    Draft Pick introyitrust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelerSal View Post
    I get more and more pumped eveyday when I read this stuff.
    Same here. I can't get enough camp coverage and I am looking forward to the Hall of Fame game.

    Thanks House of Steel for the sig and avatar

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    This is awesome!!! Year after year the Steelers always seemed to come stumbling out of the gates and a lot of it probably had to do with how soft the practices were and players not being quite ready for full contact once the season started. No excuses this year!!!


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    Quote Originally Posted by manofsteel View Post
    Cowher camps were tough but not TOUGH. This will have the team working at a faster speed when it comes for game time. They Steelers have always been a secong half team. Maybe this will wake them up and have them not being so slugish in the first half. Its all about speed, endurance, stamina and how much you can take and how far to the edge you can go. Well tough camps will make any rookie or Vet better in those categories.
    Quote Originally Posted by AZ_Steeler View Post
    This is awesome!!! Year after year the Steelers always seemed to come stumbling out of the gates and a lot of it probably had to do with how soft the practices were and players not being quite ready for full contact once the season started. No excuses this year!!!

    That was exactly what I was thinkin. If their practices weren't up to "NFL speed and toughness" with Bill, it's no wonder it took them half the season to really get rollin. It appears that Mike wants them to be prepared from game 1 on.

    This team KNOWS "how" to win games, it's just too many times they weren't up to it physically and mentally.
    If they're prepared in those ways, they'll be able to come out the starting gate ready to play as physical and tough as any team in the league--sounds great to me!
    Last edited by SteelersWoman; 07-25-2007 at 03:52 PM.

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    Having only played organized football very briefly in my youth I do not pretend to be an expert. But I do believe that you play like you practice. Teams that show up and do easy walk through practices are not getting battle hardened for what lies ahead. Sure there is a risk of injuring a key player, but if practicing hard injures the guy he probably would've been injured in a game anyway. Practice hard and play harder!

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_082009/home.parcoltop11.35513.ImageFile.jpg

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