The sophomore has been taking advantage of extra reps thanks to injuries and he's capitalizing in a big way. Brown has been a blur during practice, and is making catch after catch – some of them with a high degree of difficulty – day in and day out.
Brown is also looking comfortable in his role as a punt returner, showing sure hands and great ball awareness despite a stiff breeze blowing through Saint Vincent. Great speed, great hands, great returner – what more can one man do?
"Little trick play, little reverse pass; had the opportunity to complete it today," said Brown. "I played quarterback in high school and prep school, so my left hand is still working a little bit."
Worilds won the first rep easily, but D.J. recovered to fire up Tomlin. But before Tomlin squared the two up again, John Gilmore finally showed a spark. He easily handled linebacker Baraka Atkins before the latter recovered for a win of his own. With time ticking down on the drill, Tomlin called for the match of the day to resume: a best-of-three between Johnson and Worilds.
Worilds won the first rep, pushing Johnson back into the ball-carrier, but DJ came back with a victory to even the series. The final rep was all Worilds. The linebacker burst off the line and pancaked Johnson, sending the tight end to the turf and igniting the crowd on the hillside.
The last rep revealed Worilds' potential. Now he needs consistency.
BIG BEN BREEZES: Too bad the offense wasn't this sharp in its last game. Ben Roethlisberger quarterbacked the offense to a three-play touchdown drive in the two-minute drill.
Roethlisberger shook off the pumped-in crowd noise by hitting Heath Miller and Arnaz Battle before airing out a bomb to Tyler Grisham down the left sideline for the score. The second-team offense behind Dennis Dixon started off strong but ended poorly. Dixon hit undrafted rookie Armand Robinson three straight times before a sack disrupted the rhythm of the drive. It was followed by a premature shotgun snap by John Malecki and then another sack to end the drill.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED:
1. Dixon is hitting a lot of his passes in camp, but the fourth-year passer isn't challenging deep. It's been a plethora of 5-yard slants and dump-offs.
2. To Malecki's credit, the converted guard from Pitt stayed after practice to work on his snapping with Charlie Batch as a mentor.
3. Robinson was Dixon's favorite target in the two-minute drill and caught even more balls in scrimmage. He did some damage to his chances during special teams drills. After muffing one punt badly, the rookie fielded another and stepped out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
4. The team flirting with free agent tight end Reggie Kelly tells me that they're not satisfied with John Gilmore's performance so far. I'd have to agree with them.