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Insider Only Friday Practice Report: Defense steals the show in featured Backs-on-Backers drill

By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steelers took the field with “Renegade” blaring through the loudspeakers, as training camp moved from Saint Vincent College to Latrobe Memorial Stadium for the club’s annual night practice.
“It was an awesome evening here … coming out in front of our fans,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We got some good work done, and we had our competition period — backs-on-backers — as a feature.”
The defense definitely got the best of the offense during this drill with LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester and 6-foot-4, 271-pound fourth-year backer Baraka Atkins from Miami stealing the show.
Timmons got the better of Isaac Redman on two occasions, and James Farrior slipped past Mewelde Moore. Worilds tried to go wide on Moore a little later, and the running back held his own.
James Harrison shrugged off a block attempt by Rashard Mendenhall. Harrison also took on Heath Miller and beat him with a quick first step.

Mendenhall fared a little better against Sylvester with an initial shot, but then he lost the linebacker. Sylvester also handled running back John Clay twice.
Woodley used his power and experience to get past Baron Batch on one attempt, but on the next one Batch kept Woodley to the outside and shoved him down in the end zone.
Worilds had little resistance from Jonathan Dwyer, and later on Atkins blasted past him.
Dwyer struggled to hold his footing when engaged and that was when he wasn’t beaten out of the blocks. He actually got back in it after an early shot by Atkins on a later attempt and held his own.
The other featured period was a battle in the trenches with linemen versus linemen. Brett Keisel got things started against Ramon Foster, and the young offensive guard held his own. The two went at it again, and Foster did even better by straightening him up.
Center Doug Legursky did a good job on Chris Hoke on the first attempt, but the nose tackle got a quick first step on Legursky in the rematch.
End Aaron Smith was just too strong for second-year player Chris Scott at right tackle, but Scott battled on both tries. Scott also was not strong enough to handle end Ziggy Hoold on two shot against him.
Willie Colon handled Chris McCoy easily on two occasions, and Chris Carter slipped past Tony Hills on their two attempts against each other. Rookie sixth-round pick Keith Williams from Nebraska straightened up No. 1 pick Cam Heyward on the first attempt, but the D-end came out quickly to get past him on the second try.
The only injury on the night was to center Maurkice Pouncey, who sprained an ankle midway through the practice. But Tomlin did not believe it was serious.
Wideout Emmanuel Sanders had his left foot X-rayed Thursday, and got a good report. He was allowed to walk around without the boot Friday, but cautioned that it is just a progression in the healing process and is still out 2-3 weeks.
Rookie LB Mario Harvey (undisclosed), rookie CBs Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen (hamstrings), second-year CB Crezdon Butler (hamstring), veteran CB Bryant McFadden (quad) and rookie OT Marcus Gilbert (knee) did not practice due to various injuries. Third-year player Keenan Lewis (migraines) returned.
First-year player Eugene Bright, wideout Hines Ward and OG Chris Kemoeatu remained on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

About The Author

Dale Grdnic

TIOPS Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Grdnic is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Football. Dale has covered the Pittsburgh Sports scene for over 15 years with various publications

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