By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Short-yardage and goal-line offense were the featured sessions for the Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp practice Saturday afternoon at muggy Saint Vincent College.
The defense ended with a big stop at the line to win the competition 4-3, as Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and undrafted rookie free agent John Clay all took shots at the goal line, while Rashard Mendenhall, former goal-line drill hero Isaac Redman and basically the first-team offense and defense cheered wildly.
“I just wanted to see guys I don’t know about,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “I know about Rashard Mendenhall, and I know about Isaac Redman. But I know less about the others, so they got the call.”
Dwyer got the opening nod and was stuffed before he got to the line. Chris Hoke penetrated in the middle and blew up the play. On second down, Dwyer was hit at the line, but he kept his legs going and got into the end zone for a score………
Hoke again got a push inside, as Batch never got going on his first attempt. On second down, Batch ran a power set with David Johnson leading the way to an easy touchdown up the middle……
On the third attempt, Batch tried again to seal the win for the offense, but first-year outside linebacker Mortty Ivy from West Virginia and Stevenson Sylvester combined to put him down for minus-1……
So, it was 3-3 with everything riding on Clay from Wisconsin. And once again the defensive line held strong and the linebacking corps with Sylvester, Baraka Atkins and Ivy sealing the deal…..
“I didn’t make all the plays,” Ivy said. “I just contributed to our team effort. I missed the first one, so I didn’t want to let that happen again. I ducked my head and missed that first one, but I thought he might want to cut back the second time so I made sure I secured the tackle. He ended up staying straight on.
“(And) being a player, I knew I had to put the last one behind me and go make a play. I knew it was (Batch), but that’s what the coaches want to see. They want to see us competing against each other. He’s shown a lot, so I hope I showed a little bit there, too. (But) the biggest thing is to perform on game days.”
Ivy (6-foot-1, 239 pounds) and Atkans (6-4, 271) were signed to futures contracts in January along with running backs James Johnson and Jamie McCoy and defensive back Donovan Warren. Ivy was on the Carolina (2009) and Miami (2010) practice squads, while Atkins played for Seattle and San Francisco. He had two sacks for the Seahawks in 2008.
The Steelers were without three first-team offensive linemen, as center Maurkice Pouncey (minor ankle sprain), tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle) and guard Ramon Foster (undisclosed) did not practice.
WRs Arnaz Battle (back spasms), Limas Sweed (left shoulder sprain) and Adam Mims (tight hamstring), along with DB Warren (hip flexor) were added to the injury list.
It’s tough not to call Sweed a usual suspect, but he’s had a couple different ailments already in camp, so we’ll keep him on the new injury list. Those who have been on the list from nearly the beginning are CBs Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen, Bryant McFadden and Crezdon Butler with hamstring and quad injuries.
Also, NT Casey Hampton and OLB James Harrison were given the day off, while SS Troy Polamalu returned to practice. And OG Chris Kemoeatu appears to be getting closer to returning from his knee injury. He was running hard in a straight line with head trainer John Norwig and didn’t appear to be in discomfort when coming out of his stance and pulling to each side.
The Steelers are off Sunday and return for 3 p.m. practices Monday through Wednesday. They leave Thursday to face the Washington Redskins Friday night.