*A week into training camp, head coach Mike Tomlin has given key veterans Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu the past couple practices off.
Neither player practiced Friday night and were also excused from practice this morning. The Steelers are traveling to Canton, Ohio today for Dick LeBeau’s Hall of Fame induction and a number of veterans were given the day off on Saturday.
Friday night’s practice brought out a few intriguing developments.
- Punter Daniel Sepulveda handled all the kickoff duties and was very impressive hitting a number of kicks into the endzone. He deserves at least another look but the Steelers are already downplaying the chances of Sepulveda kicking off, which is a major weakness for Jeff Reed
- From a scouting report standpoint, Stefan Logan still has a strong hold on being the primary kick returner. The pre-season will be the more telling point but Logan has shown to be more explosive and a safer option than the likes of Antonio Brown and Joe Burnett. Logan had a great return in Friday’s practice.
- Dennis Dixon struggled mightily during team passing drills in Friday’s practice. He was erratic and had a number of ill-advised passes. Dixon was intercepted by Thaddius Gibson who is having a very strong camp and Larry Foote, Ryan Clark each dropped balls that should have easily been picked. Dixon did rebound near the end of practice with a TD strike to Antwaan Randle El.
- Coming into Friday’s practice Dixon had done some good things this week but has just lacked the type of consistency in practice needed to push for a No. 1 starting spot. There are times where Dixon has also really struggled at reading the defense.
- After a slow start in camp, Byron Leftwich has been extremely sharp of late. A highlight from Leftwich in Friday’s practice was connecting with Mike Wallace for a touchdown on the first play of an 11-on-11 drill.
- Through one week, Trai Essex is still running first team guard which is not a surprise.
- Jonathan Dwyer (hamstring) went through a full practice on Friday. He’s entering a big week of practice and will look to make his mark this weekend. The Steelers are expected to run their popular “goalline drill” in Sunday afternoon’s practice.
- Aaron Smith continues to be a great mentor for 2009 1st round pick Ziggy Hood. Hood is having an impressive camp and is always looking to Smith for pointers. Hood is an extremely hard worker who appears primed to make an immediate impact on the defensive line this season.
- One player who is not into helping younger players is James Harrison. Harrison made that known during OTA’s when he was asked about being a mentor for rookie linebackers Jason Worilds and Thaddius Gibson. Harrison said at the time he only worries about himself.
- While Harrison is not taking Gibson or Worilds under his wing, I spoke to Worilds’s agent Scott Smith yesterday who said Jason is getting a lot of guidance from 4th year linebacker LaMarr Woodley. He said the two have really hit it off.