SUNDAY’S PRACTICE NOTES
By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — It’s been a long week for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have one more training camp practice Monday at Saint Vincent College before finally getting a second day off.
But don’t call them the dog days of camp.
“It’s not quite the dog days for me,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “I’m enjoying them. It’s not the dog days.”
Tomlin praised his players’ work ethic again after Sunday’s workout, as he has the previous few days, and he discussed the new wrinkles added this week.
“We introduced some components of situational football where we were backed up (on the goal line) and continued to do some red-zone packages offensively and defensively,” Tomlin said. “And we worked on kickoff returns and special teams. (And) I liked the energy and enthusiasm.
“And the guys are really getting into the rhythm of this thing. We’re seeing the results of (the hard work). They have been developing skills that will be required for us to be good. And, purely from an effort standpoint, they’re doing a nice job of fighting through it.”
One new drill basically was a variation of an old one where offensive linemen are matched against defensive linemen. However, instead of the usual one-on-one battle, two offensive linemen were paired against two defensive linemen.
Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey did a decent job against Steve McLendon and Brett Keisel, but Cam Heyward easily handled Kelvin Beachum. And Chris Hubbard did a nice job against Al Woods.
Ziggy Hood and Guy Whimper tangled again like they did in the one-on-one drill, with each winning an attempt, and Cordian Hagans did a good job on Mike Farrell. All the back-and-forth talking subsided rather quickly, however.
Hubbard handled Woods on their second attempt as well, while Beachum did a little better against Heyward. And Joe Long and John Malecki held their own against Hagans and Brian Arnfelt.
Woods and Hebron Fangupo were stuffed by Mike Golic Jr. and new player D’Anthony Batiste, a 6-foot-4, 317-pound offensive tackle. Heyward and Hood handled Golic and Whimper, but there was no after-shock between Hood and Whimper, as the drill came to an end.
After missing one day due to a sore left knee, second-round pick Le’Veon Bell returned to practice. He was a little disappointed that he was unable to compete in Saturday’s goal-line drill, but he was glad to be back nonetheless.
“I didn’t want to be out too long, because you can never make up these reps,” Bell said. “So far, I’d give myself a 5 or 6 (rating out of 10). I’ve got so much room for improvement. The game’s still coming to me, but it’s also slowing down for me. So, I’ve got a lot of work to do, but as long as I keep progressing and growing as a player I should be all right.”
Strangest Play of the Day
Safety Ryan Clark was in coverage against first-year player David Gilreath, and Clark was so close that the fingers on his left hand got caught in the wideout’s facemask. There were no refs available to throw a flag on the play.
Big Play of the Day
This goes to new tight end John Rabe, who got loose in the secondary and hauled in about an 80-yard pass from quarterback John Parker Wilson. The only bad thing was that he got caught from behind by safety Robert Golden, the player who blew the coverage in the first place.
The list was as lengthy as it has been the past few days and still included No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones (right knee) and cornerback Curtis Brown (left hamstring). Chris Carter took over at right outside linebacker for Jones and starter Jason Worilds (big toe). Josh Victorian replaced Brown.
Safety Troy Polamalu also sat out Sunday’s practice, but for another reason.
“Troy sat out due to a contusion to the birth certificate,” Tomlin said. “It’s from the ’70s.” So, Tomlin just gave a day off to Polamalu, who actually was born in 1981 and turned 32 some four months ago.
Golden replaced him in the Steelers secondary.