Notebook: Plug N Play O-Line

Injuries forced a radically new offensive line, and Limas Sweed's injury may open the door for Jerricho Cotchery.

LATROBE – The Steelers' first goal-line drill of training camp went down to a final and deciding Snap 7, and the defense stopped rookie running back John Clay short to claim a 4-3 win and bragging rights for the week.

But the offense can brag a bit as well, since the unit's offensive line was decimated by a series of minor injuries that left Willie Colon as the old man of the group throughout the drill.

"I'm the old prizefighter," said the 28-year-old Colon. "But don't worry about it. We'll be fine."

Center Maurkice Pouncey missed Saturday's practice with the "minor" ankle injury he suffered the previous night at Latrobe Stadium. Doug Legursky, who'd been playing guard in place of Chris Kemoeatu (PUP), moved over to center and Chris Scott played right guard. Ramon Foster moved over to left guard, but he suffered a minor leg injury at the same time left tackle Jonathan Scott injured his ankle. Both were carted from the field, replaced by rookie Keith Williams (LG) and Tony Hills (LT).

Coach Mike Tomlin called the injuries "training camp-type things" and Foster later confirmed that he and Scott will return soon.

With all of that inexperience, the line played well enough to score three touchdowns from the 1½- yard line.

The first back, Jonathan Dwyer, was stopped on the first carry, but on Snap 2 he cut behind Colon's block on the right side to even the score.

Many of the first-teamers left the field at this point, and on Snap 3 Baron Batch was stopped in the backfield by Larry Foote. Batch scored on the next two carries before he was stopped by Mortty Ivy on Snap 6.

Clay, the big rookie from Wisconsin, was stopped by NT Anthony Gray and the middle of the Steelers' line on Snap 7.

"First of all, I liked the fact we didn't have any pre-snap penalties," said Tomlin. "I know that sounds like a little thing but offensively and defensively not shooting yourself in the foot in that situation prior to the ball snapping was big.

"Obviously there was some ebb and flow and good competition and contact. That's the nature of football and really how we want to play. I was pleased with it in general."


Limas Sweed left practice with a sprained shoulder that seemed to extend the big receiver's run of bad luck. Tomlin was asked if he's becoming frustrated by Sweed's continuing injury saga.

"I worry about those that are working, not those that aren't," Tomlin said. "You guys know me."

The Steelers are bringing in wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a visit on Sunday. Cotchery was cut recently by the New York Jets because he failed his physical, according to reports.

The 6-0, 203-pound Cotchery, 29, has 358 catches in seven seasons with the Jets. Last season he caught 41 passes for 433 yards and 2 touchdowns before undergoing lower back surgery in the offseason.

The Steelers are certainly becoming thin at the position. Along with Sweed's injury, Hines Ward is on the PUP list, Emmanuel Sanders will miss at least two more weeks with a foot problem, and Arnaz Battle missed Saturday's practice with back spasms.


Brett Keisel called it "the best hit of the drill." Mortty Ivy shrugged it off.

"Hey, that's what we do," said the young inside linebacker, who drew raves the previous night from Tomlin for his explosive work in the backs-on-backers drill.

The explosiveness continued Saturday in the goal-line drill when Ivy blew through the hole and rocked Batch for a loss. Ivy lost his helmet upon contact but continued to play as the rest of the defense swarmed Batch, and then swarmed Ivy after the whistle.

Is the graduate of nearby Gateway High School living his dream with the Steelers?

"It's a dream to be where I'm at today, having the opportunity to be in the NFL," he said. "That was always my goal. When I was younger it didn't really matter where.

"Lovin' to be home. Lovin' to be home with my family and friends, but growing up I was never driven to be a Steeler. It actually hit me when they called me and asked me to be a Steeler. Then I jumped for joy."

The Monroeville native was a two-year starter at WVU and was a member of the Carolina, St. Louis and Miami practice squads throughout the last two seasons.

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