The Steelers went through their first mandatory mini camp this morning. The only no show was linebacker Larry Foote who is still on the Steelers roster.
There has been speculation that Willie Parker would be a no show but Parker did participate in team activities today.
News and Notes from our source on the scene
*The Steelers plan to use 3rd round pick Kraig Urbik primarily at guard but he will get some work at tackle and center throughout the off-season drills.
*2008 4th round pick (LT) Tony Hills appears to be a project in year 2. Continues to struggle with his lateral movement against speed rushers .
*Quarterback Dennis Dixon threw the ball very well on day 1. Dixon will have a strong opportunity to unseat Charlie Batch as the Steelers #2 quarterback.
*Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has done some light throwing in the off-season and will not pick up his regiment until late May, early June
*Intriguing player going into training camp will be CFL player (RB) Stefan Logan who signed a two year deal with the Steelers this off-season. Logan is a longshot to make the team but has big play ability in the kick return game. He will have to be a difference maker in the return game from day 1 to earn a roster spot.
Logan worked with the Steelers punt return rotation today along with Shaun McDonald and Mewelde Moore.
*Santonio Holmes is determined to develop into a #1 receiver this season. He showed the ability to be one in the post-season and is focusing on being more consistent in the regular season. Holmes entering his fourth year, will be up for an extension following the 2009 season. He has two years remaining on his deal.
*The signing of Shaun McDonald is viewed as an insurance signing. McDonald has been told he will battle Limas Sweed, Dallas Baker and Mike Wallace for the #3 and #4 spots on the depth chart. The #3 battle will likely be between Sweed and McDonald.
*Rookie wide out Mike Wallace needs a lot of work on his route running and I don’t see Wallace winning the #4 spot.
*Limas Sweed is getting first team reps as Hines Ward will take it easy throughout the weekend and during off-season drills. Sweed‚Äôs route running continues to improve which has the Steelers optimistic that he will make significant progress in year 2.
*Sweed caught the ball well today and the team indicates he is no longer having issues with his right wrist, which hindered him last season after having wrist surgery during his senior season at Texas.
The Steelers receiver sets today were Holmes – Sweed – Baker with Shaun McDonald being worked in with the first and second team. WR Martin Nance did not participate in drills.
*Rashard Mendenhall has looked phenomenal in off-season workouts including today‚Äôs workout.
What to watch for is how Willie Parker accepts the inevitable
that he will be sharing carries with Mendenhall this season. He didn‚Äôt take it very well last season sharing carries with Mewelde Moore
Parker did tell the media following today’s workout that he plans on participating in off-season workouts and is not holding out for a new contract.
*The Steelers view 2009 third round pick Keenan Lewis as having safety potential but he will be strictly used as a cornerback this summer.
*Gay, Taylor, Townsend are locks to make the team. Mike Tomlin is very high on Anthony Madison.
*Ratliff and Bryant will battle for a roster spot. It‚Äôs going to be tough for Lewis to see playing time early in the season.
*One player who looked very good today was safety Ryan Mundy. Excellent athlete, makes smart reads and will push for a roster spot.
*The ability of Frank Summers to catch the ball out of the back field was evident today as he made a one handed catch on a ball thrown by Kevin McCabe that was behind him.
Summers has the inside track on making the team because of his ability to play special teams. Summers was a solid special teams tackler with UNLV.
* Looking at Parker, Mendenhall, Moore, Davis and Summers to make the roster at running back
*2008 third round pick Bruce Davis has bulked up 10-12 lbs. Last year he struggled getting a strong push against bigger, stronger offensive lineman than he faced in college.
*Davis was a pass rushing specialist in college and he‚Äôs going to be a sleeper player in training camp. He has worked hard in the Steelers off-season workouts.
MLB Keyaron Fox looked good dropping into coverage as he is the primary backup behind James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons.
*Heath Miller talked today that he is not worried about his contract situation and expects everything to work out.
Key Players who did not participate in drills
*Wide Receiver Hines Ward, Safety Ryan Clark, WR Martin Nance
more to come