6:23 p.m. My source tells me the battle at center is looking decidedly in Sean Mahan’s favor after the first day of practice. Mahan took the majority of snaps with the first team, while Justin Hartwig only working with the first team for about three snaps in each of the teams two sessions. This doesn’t mean things won’t change in the coming weeks but it appears the Steelers are giving Mahan every chance to retain his starting spot.
Willie Colon took all the snaps with the first team with Max Starks backing him up. Both were beaten badly by second year player LaMarr Woodley in the afternoons one -on- one drills with head coach Mike Tomlin looking on. With Chris Kemoeatu out, Trai Essex worked with the first team. This is Kemoeatu’s job to lose.
At inside Linebacker Larry Foote took all of the teams snaps with the first team, giving way to 2007 #1 draft pick Lawrence Timmons when the Steelers went into their quarter defense. Timmons looked very good in that pass defense, lined up next to James Farrior. My sources believe Timmons could make a big impact in that role this season.
5:34 p.m. A few emails coming in about the afternoon session. A source tells me Deshea Townsend looked a step slow today. This is only on 1 day of observation but Bryant McFadden has a solid chance to beat out Townsend. Tomlin wants to get younger and faster on D and moving Townsend to nickle back would be ideal. Well see what happens the rest of the way but that is going to be a interesting battle. Speaking of cornerbacks, word is William Gay looked good today. gotta run some errands for the next few hours – full report to be up later tonight
2:50 p.m. Word is Limas Sweed did not look out of place this morning during the 9 on 7 drills. A insider told me, what Sweed needs to work on is his separation at the line of scrimmage. Once he gets going in the open field his talent takes over and he’s going to be a mis-match for defenses. Look for the offensive coaches to be working with Sweed primarily on his first couple steps to create separation against the bigger/faster cornerbacks he will be facing in the NFL.
2:35 p.m. Steelers are getting ready to take the field around 2:50. Santonio Holmes appears to have got what he wanted today – a chance to return punts. Holmes has been pressuring the coaching staff to let him be the teams primary punt returner. Travis Williams is another undrafted rookie to keep an eye on in the preseason. Williams is obviously a longshot to make the squad but there are some insiders who think he’s one of those projection players that may develop into a contributor down the road. If Williams performs well he could make the practice squad. Williams and Jeremy Bloom also returned punts this morning.
12:44 p.m. A lot of emails coming in about Willie Reid. Word is Reid got into a skirmish with Antony Smith which is nothing new when it comes to Smith. He’s always head hunting in camp. Speaking of Reid, he will battle Dallas Baker for the #5 spot. Right now I’d say Baker has the edge. What Reid has going for is he returns kicks and if he can resemble the player he was in college then he may earn himself a roster spot but he has do have a very good camp and perform very well in the preseason games.
12:35 p.m. Timmons and Mendehall looked very good in drills this morning. One source told me Mendenhall has the look of a superstar. Takes pride in what he does. Timmons seems more confident and you could see it on the field. He has also showed up to camp in great shape.
12:20 p.m. On the offensive line (1st team) the Steelers went with LT Smith, LG Essex, C Mahan, RG Simmons and RT Colon. Many expected to see Mahan at LG today and Hartwig at center but that wasn’t the case.
11:35 a.m. – Word is Kendall Simmons, Max Starks and Willie Colon appear to be in excellent shape. Troy Polamalu is being listed as day to day. Could see him practicing tomorrow but Wednesday is a likely target date. Polamalu did watch the first session on the sidelines. LG Chris Kemoeatu was not on the field and the Steelers are being very mum on his situation. There appears to be little concern about Kemoeatu’s injury. Practice updates in a bit