Cotchery, who spent the last seven seasons with the New York Jets before officially signing with the Steelers earlier today, was learning on the fly, absorbing the playbook as fast as he could and seeking advice from a player with nearly twice as many years in the league, veteran Hines Ward.
"Yeah, no question," said Cotchery when asked if Ward's been his early mentor. "When you watch the games, you see him pointing out guys that are blitzing and all of those things, so he understands the ins and outs. It's good to have him in the same room."
Pittsburgh's newest wideout donned the field wearing Antwaan Randle El's (and John Stallworth's) No. 82 and went right to work, showing great handwork to beat the press in WR vs. DB drills.
Cotchery lined up with the second-team offense during 7-on-7s and scrimmage, but was one of the highlights of the team's third-down drill. The veteran's first catch was a tough one in tight coverage by Niles Brinkley. Cotchery then became a frequent target of both Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon.
The former Jet continued to shine in 7-on-7s with crisp routes and separation. He also made the last catch of the drill, a short out with James Harrison lurking behind in coverage.
BROWN, REDMAN CARRY ON: Two of the best players Friday continued to shine at Sunday's practice. Antonio Brown looked sharp from the get-go, beating both William Gay and Bryant McFadden on underneath routes in WRs vs. DBs.
Brown performed well in third-down drills, too, by beating Keenan Lewis. Then Brown made the play of the afternoon by turning on the jets and torching both Lewis and Troy Polamalu for a 60-yard touchdown catch. He repeated the feat in 7-on-7s at the expense of Brinkley and safety Brett Greenwood.
Isaac Redman, who scored Pittsburgh's only points and accounted for half the team's rushing yardage Friday, ran well Sunday. The third-year back had the top play of the Steelers' first scrimmage with a shifty run through the right side of the line.
Redman's made some great catches, too. His spinning downfield grab was surprisingly elegant, and he showed soft hands and quick feet on a dump-off that earned a first down.
CBs GET MIXED RESULTS: Gay and Lewis appeared to struggle Sunday. Gay received a lion's share of reps in WRs vs. DBs, but was beaten by both Brown and Tyler Grisham early. Lewis started outside across from McFadden, with Gay in the slot, and had similar issues covering Brown much of the afternoon.
Another Brown, rookie cornerback Curtis Brown, had a solid day. The third-rounder showed great instincts and nearly had an interception with a great jump on a route by Cotchery. Brown played tight coverage against Grisham on a completion in the third-down drill and got the better of the receiver later in the afternoon, denying him a shot at a long pass.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED:
1. Cameron Heyward has unbelievably high standards. The rookie had a strong showing on Friday night, but referred to it as "terrible." When asked how he'd grade the performance now that he's seen the tape, he said it was "even worse."
2. The first-rounder also has a lot of fire in him. He and Jonathan Scott got into a heated shoving match after a play in the 3rd down drill.
3. Gay getting a ton of reps in WRs vs. DBs isn't a good thing in my eyes. It tells me the team needs to see more from him, which isn't a good mindset to have with a fifth-year corner.
4. After a no-show for Limas Sweed on Friday night, the receiver caught a few balls Sunday – with one caveat: a few were bobbles as opposed to clean catches.
5. Cotchery might be a big help on special teams. The veteran stayed after practice to field punts, a job he'd done a bit in New York. The Steelers might need him to fill that role behind Brown considering that Mewelde Moore misplayed a few punts Sunday.