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Insider Only Wednesday’s OTA Practice Report: Mendenhall takes reps returning kicks

Wednesday’s Practice Notes
  • Wednesday’s practice had a focus on special teams. The Steelers worked on kick and punt returns. Among the notable returners was starting running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendehall returned kicks during his rookie season but it’s hard to imagine him being under any kind of serious consideration to return kicks this season due to the Steelers lack of depth at the running back position.
  • The Steelers depth chart at running back through the majority of practices since mini-camp has been 1. Mendenhall, 2. Moore, 3. Redman and 4. Dwyer. Frank Summers continues to get significant reps at the fullback position.
  • Quarterback Byron Leftwich took all of the first team reps at quarterback again today. Leftwich has been working extensively on his timing with Mike Wallace as Hines Ward remains limited with a hamstring injury and did not participate in drills for the second straight day.
  • Quarterback Dennis Dixon is running with the second team and Charlie Batch remains third team quarterback.
  • Antwaan Randle El has moved into the No. 2 slot with Arnaz Battle running No. 3. Tyler Grisham for the time being is ahead of 2010 3rd round pick Emmanuel Sanders and 6th round pick Antonio Brown who made some nice grabs in mini-camp.
  • 2009 1st round pick Evander Hood has received a lot of work with the first team this off-season as Aaron Smith has been limited at times. Hood, however, has worked primarily from the left side with Nick Eason being the primary backup at right defensive end.
  •  2009 3rd round pick Kraig Urbik is entering a crucial off-season and he remains down on the depth chart. At the guard position 1st teamers Kemoeatu – Essex and 2nd teamers Foster – Pouncey remain ahead of Urbik and it appears those four will remain ahead of him in the near future.
  • Urbik has also received reps at center but is 3rd on the depth chart behind Justin Hartwig and Doug Legursky. In today’s practice, Urbik worked with the 2nd team at center as Justin Hartwig did not practice, elevating Legursky to first team center, a spot he has seen a lot of time at this off-season. The Steelers are high on Legursky and it’s going to be a major battle for Urbik to win a spot as one of the top backups at either the guard or center position.
  • There continues to be talk that William Gay is not battling for a starting spot and the Steelers are focused on him just playing the nickle…. A position in played well in 2008.
  • Since mini-camp there has been no change in the Steelers rotation at cornerback with Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden running with the first team. William Gay and Keenan Lewis have worked extensively with the second team. Joe Burnett is 5th cornerback running with the third team.
  • The Steelers are looking for Lewis to take a big step in his development.
  • *Brett Keisel, James Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger, Keyaron Fox, Justin Hartwig, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu did not practice.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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