Steelers Practice Report (7-29)

Jim Wexell filed this complete practice report on the Pittsburgh Steelers:

LATROBE – The message that was sent once again here on the second day of full-contact Steelers football is a message that 236-pound running back Jonathan Dwyer said was sent last April.

It's a message that the Steelers will play physical offensive football this year.

"They sent that message when they drafted top-notch offensive linemen in the first two rounds," Dwyer said. "We've got a great bunch of linemen who love to be physical and guys who love to run the ball and be tough guys."

Dwyer was that "tough guy" Sunday. When Isaac Redman was smacked in the head and left the field after the first play of team scrimmage, Dwyer replaced him and the offensive didn't miss a beat.

On the first snap of the second scrimmage, Dwyer ran wide behind his fullback and cut up, then cut back outside for a sizable gain.

On the first snap of the third and final team scrimmage, Dwyer ran up the middle for close to 10 yards as he kept his pads low and his legs churning.

If the message from coach Mike Tomlin is that the Steelers are going to establish a physical mindset on offense, Dwyer is happy to be the errand boy.

"It suits me and Redman's style," Dwyer said. "(John) Clay is the same type of back, too. It's a great situation for us to be a smashmouth football team."


With physical football comes injuries, and cornerback Keenan Lewis sprained the AC joint in his shoulder on the sweep by Dwyer.

Also, linemen Trai Essex and David DeCastro rolled their ankles and missed bits of practice.

Redman returned for the seven-on-seven drill and even took a snap in the final team scrimmage.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was rested because the entire practice was held on the field turf.

"Just want to preserve him," said Tomlin.

Heath Miller (ankle) and Jeremy Kapinos (back) again missed practice.

The players will have Monday off, so Tomlin expects many of the injured players to return.


The feature competition in Sunday's practice was sealing the edge with tight ends against linebackers. And to spice things up, Tomlin called over to the running backs coach and loudly asked to borrow fullback David Johnson.

"Look, Wood," Tomlin shouted to LaMarr Woodley, "Here comes D.J!" Woodley didn't go up against Johnson until midway through the drill, but he was obviously inspired.

On the first snap, Johnson fired low, but Woodley snapped him to the ground and easily got to the running back. The second snap, Woodley just threw Johnson as if he were a ragdoll. The third snap was also a decisive win for Woodley, who was clearly the star of this show.

Undrafted linebacker Adrian Robinson had some bright moments at the expense of 6-foot-8 tight end Leonard Pope, who also struggled against Brandon Hicks.

Brandon Johnson also struggled. The skinny 6-6 outside linebacker from the Cincinnati Bengals was whipped by Weslye Saunders.


With Mike Wallace still holding out, and Sanders being rested, Sunday was a chance for the reserve wide receivers to make a run at a couple of wide-open roster spots. Some of the great catches should be noted:

* David Gilreath, the fleet-footed former Wisconsin Badger, went way up to haul in a Charlie Batch pass during live scrimmage.

* During 7-on-7s, Toney Clemons went up to make a fingertip catch that drew gasps from the other end of the field.

* The catch of the day, though, was made by Jimmy Young. The former TCU star ended practice with a diving catch of a deep pass from Byron Leftwich after breaking free from the icy grip of Ike Taylor.


Willie Colon was asked why he opened Saturday's team scrimmage with what appeared to be a premeditated blast and then fight with linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

"Just how it goes sometimes at camp," Colon said. "I got a little hot-headed. I still love him. He loves me. Move on."

One teammate theorized it was two years of injury frustration for Colon that erupted on the first snap of the 2012 season.

"A little bit. A little bit," Colon said. "But I've never been one to puff my chest and scream how bad I am. I have a temperament but I play by it and try to play smart and not hurt my teammates in the process. It's practice. Who knows what it was. It's over."

Colon lightened up and had a hearty laugh when asked about the screen play in which his pants fell down causing him to fall on his face in the open field.

"Yeah, Ben (Roethlisberger) made fun of me," Colon said. "I don't know what happened to my drawstring, man."

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