Day 7 Notes
*The first team reps for quarterback Byron Leftwich have increased in the last handful of practices. Leftwich was sharp on Wednesday and connected with Hines Ward for a touchdown pass in an 11-on-11 drill today. Ward beat cornerback William Gay on the sequence.
*The offensive coaching staff is exploring options of using Dennis Dixon in situational plays. The team continues to work on creative plays using Dixon’s athletic ability on the run and roll outs. It was mentioned today that there are plays drawn up where Dixon could play running back. However, that has yet to happen in practice thus far.
*Right tackle Flozell Adams missed Thursday mornings practice but did return for the afternoon session. Jonathan Scott ran with the first team in the morning session but later joined the Steelers lengthy injury list, suffering a concussion in the afternoon session.
Adams and veteran left defensive end Aaron Smith have had plenty of good one-on-one battles through the first week of camp. The edge went to Smith today.
*Rookie inside linebacker Sly Sylvester and cornerback Crezdon Butler have drawn praise from team contacts in recent days. Sylvester has not been a standout by anymeans but has shown a knack for being around the ball. He’s a hard hitter who will need to make an impact on special teams in the pre-season.
Butler has shown some playmaking skills in the secondary but faces an up hill battle to earn a roster spot. He’s a player who could develop tremendously on the practice squad.
*6th round pick Jonathan Dwyer is a week behind due to a nagging hamstring injury. He has yet to be a full participant in camp. The Steelers entire depth at running back has been hit hard with Frank Summers also limited due to a concussion.
*Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is a player who doesn’t lack confidence by any means. For a wide receiver that can be a great thing. After going through some learning pains and struggling to learn the offense early on in OTA’s, Sanders has had a breakout week in camp.
His separation has been excellent off the line and his playmaking skills have really stood out.
*Meanwhile, the battle for the last wide receiver spot, if the Steelers carry more than five, will be one of the most intriguing battles to watch this pre-season.
Wide receiver Tyler Grisham continues to run with the second team as he tries to hold off fast rising rookie Antonio Brown.
Performing well in the pre-season will be critical for Brown who is also looking to make his mark in the return game.
*Through the first week of camp, 2nd year pro Keenan Lewis has established himself as the clear No. 3 cornerback. He continues to work primarily behind Bryant McFadden who is entering the first year of a three year contract with the Steelers.
The hope from the Steelers standpoint is that Lewis will develop into a starter next season.