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Monday Afternoon Practice

By Mike Bires
LATROBE _ It was hot and muggy. The temperature was a sizzling 89 degrees. And the Pittsburgh Steelers were sweating profusely as they practiced during one of the dog days of summer.
But with 30 minutes left in the second of two Monday workouts, a lanky, 6-foot-5 kicker named Piotr Czech came to the rescue.
He did so by kicking a 52-yard field goal in what has become a camp tradition since coach Mike Tomlin arrived two years ago.
Here’s the drill: On a blistering hot day at camp, Tomlin tells the team that if a kicker connects on a long field goal, he’ll cut practice short.
Around 4:35 p.m. Monday, it was Czech, a native of Poland, who was called on to try a 52-yarder.
Undaunted by the challenge, he drilled it with room to spare.
“(We) provided Piotr Czech an opportunity to drill a 52-yarder, and he saved the guys about 30 minutes of sweat,” Tomlin said.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I would have missed,” said Czech, who kicked for four years at Wagner College, an NCAA Division I-AA program on Staten Island, N.Y.
In each of the past two years, it was first-team kicker Jeff Reed who was put to the test by Tomlin. Both times Reed made his kick to send the Steelers to the showers early. But this year, Tomlin gave the assignment to Czech, who’ll likely be cut in a few weeks.
“I would have liked to have been out there,” Reed said. “That’s how I am. But today wasn’t my day to kick. Earlier today, Coach (Tomlin) asked me if Piotr was up to the challenge. I told him, ‘Yeah, he’s a good kicker.’ ”
“I was glad to get the opportunity to showcase my talent,” Czech said. “Fifty-yards was the perfect range for me. The next two periods _ 7-on-7 and team _ are the two toughest periods of the day. So I tried to send everybody to the locker room and get the some rest.”
Steelers cornerback Anthony Madison left camp Monday afternoon after learning that his father had died.
A native of Thomasville, Ala., Madison is a reserve corner who’s played primarily on the Steelers’ special teams the past three years.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony and his family,” Tomlin said.
Madison is expected to play Saturday when the Steelers meet the Washington Redskins in a preseason game in Landover, Md.
Veteran free safety Ryan Clark is glad rookie running back Isaac Redman is faring so well in short-yardage situations. Clark wishes Redman the best as he tries to win a roster spot.
Still, Clark isn’t very happy about Redman spiking the football after he scored the first of his five touchdowns in a goal-line scrimmage Sunday.
“It’s very premature,” Clark said. “You got to do a little more before you start spiking the ball. Stay humble. And it wasn’t like it was the varsity out there. It really wasn’t the varsity. It was the varsity minus a couple.”
Sitting out that drill were strong safety Troy Polamalu and Clark.
Wide receiver Shaun McDonald missed practice with a bruised calf.
Running back Frank Summers sat out with a minor groin injury.
Running back Mewelde Moore missed yet another practice with a hamstring pull that’s been nagging him. Defensive end Travis Kirschke also sat out after twisting his ankle in Sunday afternoon’s practice.
After missing several practices and the preseason game against Arizona due to an abdominal strain, wide receiver Brandon Williams returned to practice.
“On the injury front – no major deals whatsoever here today,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been blessed on the injury front.”
Three of the Steelers’ oldest veterans got the morning practice off. Linebacker James Farrior, wide receiver Hines Ward and cornerback Deshea Townsend were excused as was strong safety Troy Polamalu.
Then in the afternoon, it was veteran defensive end Aaron Smith who was excused.

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Mike Bires

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