Practice Report -- Aug. 15

You can't get Ike Taylor off the field, and can barely get John Clay on it. Mortty Ivy keeps making plays and Cam Heyward keeps scrapping, during and after plays. Much more in Ken Torgent's practice report.

LATROBE – A day away from surgery on his broken left thumb, Ike Taylor practiced on a dreary Monday afternoon at Saint Vincent.

Taylor broke his left thumb in the team's first preseason game Friday night but soldiered on with the digit in a cast covered by a plastic bag to protect it from the rain.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," said Taylor. "Like I said, don't really nobody play 100% anyway. You gotta find a way to play with pain. They gotta make me not practice and not be out here."

Taylor had a relatively normal practice with the first-team offense, all things considered. He said afterward that no play adversely affected the injury and that he hopes to get back to work less than two days after the surgery.

IVY MAKING PLAYS: Linebacker Mortty Ivy is making his case for a spot on the practice squad. The Monroeville native already had one of the best hits of camp on his résumé – a collision with Baron Batch in the team's goal-line drill.

Ivy made his first play Monday on a pass by Byron Leftwich in the team's first scrimmage. The second-year linebacker jumped the throw and snagged an interception that he turned into an easy touchdown, wowing the crowd watching from the sidelines. Ivy flashed his coverage skills again in the red-zone drill, breaking up another Leftwich pass intended for TE Weslye Saunders that would've led to an easy score.

The linebacker who spent time last season on Carolina's practice squad is looking like a find for a team that excels in taking unknown linebackers and turning them into valuable contributors.

OFFENSE UNDERWHELMS: The Steelers' offense struggled for the duration of the red-zone drill. Ryan Clark picked off Ben Roethlisberger's first attempt of the session, while an underthrown ball to Mike Wallace and a drop by the normally-reliable Heath Miller kept the first team out of the end zone.

Leftwich and the second unit didn't fare any better. The quarterback only completed two of his five passes in the drill, with two overthrows and the one breakup by Ivy. The two completions occurred well after the defense reached the quarterback. Had it been live football and not training camp, Leftwich would have been 0-for-3 with two sacks.

HEYWARD HEATING UP: First-round pick Cameron Heyward engaged in another post-play shoving match, his second in two days. This time around, the opponent was guard Ramon Foster, who pulled the rookie's helmet off during a play.

It was only fitting, then, that the two combatants would meet during one-on-ones. The duo paired up for back-to-back reps, with Heyward getting the better of Foster on both tries. The first-rounder displayed an impressive burst off the line and simply overpowered the guard with an aggressive bull-rush, a move he had used to great effect against veteran Chris Kemoeatu earlier in the drill.

One player who wasn't beaten by Heyward's rush was fellow rookie Keith Williams,, who held his own against Heyward's first bull-rush and evidently picked up on a way to stop it. One the second rep, Williams took advantage of Heyward's initial lunge, using the end's own momentum to send him sprawling to the turf on his stomach.

Heyward, like any young defensive end, still needs to learn proper technique so that he doesn't have to carry his play on athleticism alone. He possesses outstanding strength and quickness, but if often reckless in his use of it. This is what training camp is for. He has a great cast of veterans to learn from, and learn he will.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED:

1. John Clay may have taken his name out of the battle for a spot at running back. The undrafted rookie left practice early before a trainer chased him down. After a few minutes, Clay returned to his teammates just in time for the end of practice. No word yet on exactly what the situation was, but the general impression was that the rookie was calling it quits.

2. Miguel Chavis has officially moved to tight end. The now-former defensive end traded in #65 for #46, a tight end number.

3. If you're following the stock watch at right guard, Tony Hills is going up and Chris Scott is going down.

4. The team worked a number of reverses on Monday. Tyler Grisham took one and faked a few more. Antonio Brown took one and tried another downfield pass, but the pass was broken up by safety Brent Greenwood.

5. Swayze Waters took every rep of the team's field goal and kickoff drills. He displayed solid accuracy and a slightly better leg than Shaun Suisham.


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