Monday practice report

LATROBE – The Steelers were forced to practice in the St. Vincent College gym Monday morning because of a downpour, but the fields held up for the afternoon practice. It made coach Bill Cowher happy because the conditions were adverse enough for it to become something of an obstacle.

"But it's no excuse for a couple snaps being on the ground," he said of some raggedness.

Cowher also introduced running back Chad Scott to the team, and he wore No. 30, the same number worn by the other Chad Scott when he was here.

This Chad Scott (5-8, 195) transferred to North Carolina from Kentucky and was a back-up to Willie Parker his first year as a Tar Heel. Scott gives the Steelers four players from a North Carolina team that went 2-10 two years ago, when Parker languished on the bench.

"Chad Scott, he's my man," Parker said.

But what about that 2-10 record, Willie?

"You've got to go down there and check out the coaches on that," he said.

Scott was one of the back-ups, along with Parker, before leading the team in rushing last season with 796 yards (5.6 avg.). He did most of it in less than half a season.

"They did him the same way they did me," Parker said. "I told him to keep his head up because I've been through that. At the end, in the Miami game, they put him in there because they had no choice and he did what he did."

Scott gained 175 yards against Miami. He started the final five games, gaining 560 yards (5.7 avg.) and was one of the reasons North Carolina caught fire and played in the Continental Tire Bowl. Scott was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns and released last week.

Cowher joked about why Scott was given No. 30.

"They're trying to help me with my memory since I've been in this league awhile," Cowher said. "Yeah, it was kind of ironic he got the number."

As for Parker, he feels he's being given "an opportunity of a lifetime" because of the Staley injury.

Monday's practice was highlighted by a catch made by Fred Gibson. Remember him? Sure. The fourth-round draft pick made the catch of the day on a high throw from Charlie Batch that was behind Gibson.

On the other hand, Gibson made a poor effort to catch a pass by Brian St. Pierre and it was intercepted by Janssen Patten.

Ike Taylor continued his strong showing and may now be first in line among the young cornerbacks if a starting job opens up. Taylor made a pair of back-to-back pass defenses, one of which he had to sky high to swat the ball away from Walter Young.

Cedrick Wilson made another fabulous catch when he went up over Chris Hope to grab a deep pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

Nate Washington made a fine catch, but was more impressive in managing to land both feet in bounds.

One amusing sight was a Tommy Maddox screen pass to Verron Haynes. The pass wasn't the funny part. The downfield blockers were Chukky Okobi and rookie Chris Kemoeatu. The latter, a 344-pounder, crushed one unidentified defensive back way down the field.

In the one-minute drill, Sean Morey and Young were the third and fourth receivers in the spread set because of Hines Ward's holdout and Lee Mays' hamstring problems. The defense ruled on this day. Roethlisberger was sacked on third and 10 by Troy Polamalu. On fourth-and-17, Roethlisberger scrambled and looked, and scrambled and looked, before throwing a pass that was broken up, and almost intercepted, by Polamalu.

The second team was stopped as well. Maddox had two of his worst plays of camp. On the first, he scrambled and his throw slipped, so he caught it himself and was sacked. On the next play he scrambled and dumped it to no one in particular. His fourth-and-15 pass to Gibson went far enough for a first down with four seconds left, but Cowher called it a session (or kicked a field goal as per his rules in this session).

Joining Mays on the sideline was defensive end Travis Kirschke (back). Linebacker Clark Haggans is being kept away from the team because he has the flu. Alonzo Jackson returned from missing practice Saturday and Monday morning to be with his girl friend Nolah for the birth of their daughter Zoie.

I'm sure all of the readers at Steel City Sports join me in wishing this couple and their child the best of luck. Sometimes we criticize football players when they don't meet our expectations, but Alonzo Jackson really is one of the nicest young men you'd ever want to meet. I'm certain his daughter will grow up to be very proud of her daddy.


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