Antonio Brown showed up to practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Find out what happened when A.B. challenged Artie Burns, and read the scouting report on new quarterback Dustin Vaughan. And more.

PITTSBURGH -- Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann studied ballet, tap and jazz dancing from the age of two until his senior year in high school and said it helped with "body control, balance, a sense of rhythm, and timing."

Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown studied dance the last few months for an appearance on a popular TV show, and he agrees with Swann.

"You're ready to transition to the next move, like catching the ball and being able to move fluidly and being on the balls of my feet," Brown said after his first football practice since suffering a concussion in the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Brown missed the ensuing playoff loss in Denver and said he needed another week before he felt better.

Brown then began working out and went through a practice routine for "Dancing With The Stars."

The experience behind him, Brown finally showed up to play football Thursday in the Steelers' third OTA workout of the spring.

"I'm excited to be here with my team," he said, although Brown was disappointed that "I didn't see my guy 'Seven' today."

Number seven, Ben Roethlisberger, missed the workout to be with his wife during the birth of the couple's third child, their second son.

Roethlisberger's replacement, Landry Jones, looked for Brown right away during "Seven Shots," the two-point conversion series that opens every practice.

That first pass was incomplete, but Jones went back to Brown two snaps later for a score over first-round draft pick Artie Burns.

It was followed, of course, by a brief dance routine.

"I thought he was running a slant and I bit on the slant hard," said Burns. "He went back outside and (Jones) threw it over top of me."

Jones and Brown went after Burns again later in practice. Burns lined up in man coverage and Brown ran a go route past the rookie. The pass was slightly underthrown and Burns was able to recover, dive, extend his arms and break up the pass. Burns actually got both hands on the ball and came close to a spectacular interception before the ground caused an incompletion.

Brown said he was looking to challenge the rookie cornerback.

"Yeah, I did," Brown said. "I wanted to challenge everybody today. I came out here to complete."

"Just from watching film I already knew he was fast, so I wasn't surprised by the speed," said Burns. "That was why I was able to get up out of (the hip turn) a little early."

Burns, of course, was impressed by the receiver who's made more catches the last two seasons -- 265 -- than any other NFL receiver had ever caught in a two-year span.

"He's great," Burns said. "To be out here covering him helps my level of game rise up."

Burns continues to work with the Steelers' second-team defense behind veterans Will Gay and Ross Cockrell, and Brown likes the little bit he's seen of the rookie.

"He has a lot of potential," Brown said. "And he’s still out here on the field getting extra work. Those are things you want to see from guys coming into the NFL."

WAY BACK WHEN

Brown watched Burns for only one day, and just about everyone else with the Steelers has watched him for only three days. But second-year wide receiver Eli Rogers was a teammate of Burns back at Miami Northwestern High School. Rogers was a senior and Burns was a sophomore, but Rogers said he didn't act like one.

"He had a dog in him back then," Rogers said with a laugh. "As you could see out here, he still has it in him: second-effort plays, diving for pass breakups, things of that nature. I'm excited to have him here."

That prep team also included quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and wide receiver Amari Cooper, but was eliminated from the playoffs in the second round with a 9-3 record.

Rogers and Bridgewater went off to Louisville and Rogers signed with the Steelers last year as an undrafted free agent. He drew praise from Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley for his work as a slot receiver during training camp, but underwent surgery on a nagging foot injury and was put on injured reserve for the season.

Rogers (5-10, 187) is back and hopeful he can win a job, perhaps as a punt returner. His name was mentioned to special-teams coordinator Danny Smith on draft day while Smith was answering questions about seventh-round pick Demarcus Ayers, who was drafted in the hope of becoming a punt returner.

"Eli is in the mix," Smith said at the time. "Eli's in the building and Eli's got a pair of Steelers shorts and he thinks he's a Steeler but I have yet to see him in a game, so he’s a suspect at this time."

The quote was relayed yesterday to Rogers, who laughed and said, "I am a suspect. Nobody knows who I am. That's cool. I ain't trippin'."

Rogers, Ayers and Levi Norwood have returned punts this week for the Steelers, who've been looking to relieve Brown of the duty for years.

"They let that be known," Rogers said. "The coaching staff is straightforward about everything. They let us know what it is."

TEXAS FLOOD

Roethlisberger's absence created playing time for Dustin Vaughan, a 6-5, 220-pound quarterback who looks like he could give the Steelers their best "camp arm" since Dennis Dixon was the No. 4 back in 2011.

"It's really good getting back in the groove of things," Vaughan said after the workout. "It's my third year in the league and my understanding is good. This is a great coaching staff. They really teach well and they do a lot of one-on-one type stuff. It's an open-door policy and they allow me to come in and learn whenever I want to, so I feel really good about the offense."

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Vaughan -- no relation to the late Texas-born musician Stevie Ray Vaughan ("but I get asked that all the time") -- played collegiately at West Texas A&M, where as a senior he led all NCAA divisions with a Division II single-season record 5,401 passing yards.

He signed with the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 draft and made the team that season. But last year the Cowboys kept only two quarterbacks and cut Vaughan, who then spent a month on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad.

Vaughan was cut by the Bills because of injuries at other positions and remained unsigned until the Steelers signed him to a futures contract last January.

Vaughan has stature, pocket presence and an arm that was strong enough to feather a beautiful, deep touchdown pass Thursday to Marcus Tucker. But on the next snap, Vaughan was intercepted by free safety Ray Vinopal on a short pass over the middle.

"There are ups and down for everybody," said the good-natured Vaughan. "I think the important thing is to learn how to come back from those things. You're going to have really good plays and then you're going to have some not-so-good plays. That goes for anybody playing the quarterback position. The important thing to take from there is to watch film, take what I did wrong on that, and then try to improve from it."


Steel City Insider Top Stories