WEDNESDAY’S CAMP BUZZ
By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — While a good deal of attention has been heaped on rookie fourth-round pick Shamarko Thomas during the opening weeks of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp, second-year player Robert Golden has been the first safety off the bench when one is needed.
It’s not that Thomas hasn’t lived up to his reputation, because he has displayed the hitting ability and versatility that the Steelers expected. But Golden appears to have picked up his game since spending last season as a reserve safety and special teams performer.
“Things have been going well,” Golden said. “I’ve just been trying to get better every day, so I’m working hard to get there. The more playing time you get, the more you can get out there in live situations, the better off you’ll be.
“So, I’m just trying to take advantage of every chance I get in this preseason and learn from two of the best safeties in the league that we have right here on the Steelers. I couldn’t ask to be in a better situation with the Steelers and have two better teammates than Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.”
It’s also been beneficial for Golden to work with former Steelers Pro Bowl safety Carnell Lake, as his position coach, and Hall-of-Famers Dick LeBeau and Rod Woodson. LeBeau is the Steelers defensive coordinator, and Woodson is a coaching assistant who spent time with the team in the spring as well.
“I know every position in the secondary, so I could go out there and play either safety spot or the corners if I had to, nickel back and everything like that,” Golden said. “So, I stay on top of my playbook and my reads, and having that versatility really adds value to my game.
“And the big four special teams, punt and kick coverage and returns, I’m on all those teams, just like last season. I definitely want to get better on all of those, because that’s where the team’s going to need me the most this season. So, I’ll just keep studying and working hard every day.”
Ring the Bell
Second-round pick Le’Veon Bell was drafted to improve the Steelers 26th-ranked running game, and the rookie running back appears poised to get that opportunity in the second preseason game Monday night at Washington.
Bell didn’t play against the New York Giants in the preseason opener, but he moved up the Steelers’ depth chart anyway and is listed as a co-starter with Isaac Redman this week.
“I feel good about my work, and I’m going to just continue to work the best that I can (and) keep competing,” Bell said. “It’s good motivation, (so) I’m going to keep striving to be the best I can be. I came here ready for competition, and I’m going to continue to compete and do the best that I can.”
Big Ben on Target
After a rough Monday practice, clearly his worst this camp, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was much sharper Wednesday night. Despite limited work in the preseason opener mixed in among several days off, as well as being off Tuesday, Roethlisberger mixed up his passes to numerous targets.
Roethlisberger connected with tight end David Paulson, wideout Antonio Brown and fullback Will Johnson in one successful series. But after several short passes set it up, Roethlisberger went for it all and hit wideout Emmanuel Sanders with bomb down the right sideline. He beat cornerback Josh Victorian on the play, despite decent coverage.
Second-team quarterback Bruce Gradkowski led a nice drive down the field, but when he attempted to complete a pass into the red zone on a third-down play, he was picked off by Victorian. The interception likely would have been returned for a touchdown.
Third-team quarterback Landry Jones was picked off by Shamarko Thomas.
Curtis Brown Returns<
A third-year cornerback, Brown was back with the second-team defense after missing at least half of camp with a left hamstring and ankle injury.
“Curtis Brown was one of the highlights today,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It was good to have him back out there as a full participant. All the others that have come back in recent days have had no negative consequences in their participation, so that’s positive. Those that are still out, of course, are working diligently to get back. Hopefully they’ll do that and do that soon.”
Tomlin did not comment on outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who was dressed but remained on the sideline during the team portion of practice. No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones replaced him on the first-team defense.
Offensive guard Justin Cheadle was on the field with an ice bag on his right leg. Tomlin said that he was out with a significant hamstring injury, so “we’re talking week-to-week, as opposed to day-to-day.”
Place-kicker Shaun Suisham boomed a 60-yard field goal early in practice.
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