The Pittsburgh Steelers just wrapped up their first minicamp and just like lunch, forget the salad and let's get right to the meat:
* Santonio Holmes has everything you want in a number one draft pick. Enthusiastic, works hard and comes off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball with a jump that has dig route all over it. The funny thing about this guy is his ability to look to a cornerback like he's high-tailing it downfield at max speed even as he's shutting it down in preparation to run an out pattern. It has something to do with the way he stands tall while dropping his hips and shortening his steps in preparation for the out cut. He's a deceptive strider.
Holmes also has good concentration as he runs his patterns. On one play he took a blast in the mush from Bryant McFadden and re-adjusted his head gear while he finished the route at top speed. This guy is going to be fun to watch.
* Bash brother one meet bash brother two. Chris Kemoeatu lines up next to Willie Colon on the Steelers second team offensive line on the right side. Colon plays tackle with indifference as to whether or not anyone is wearing pads. You get the feeling Willie has had his share of timeouts during walk-through practices at Hofstra. I like to brace a young guy, get up close and get a feel of his intensity when I first meet him and that would be the word that comes to mind when you look Colon in the eye.
If he has any of that God-given opposing-player-eats-dirt-whenever he's-around Kemoeatu type ability, this guy's going to stick. He's my early odds-on favorite to be the first guy to mix it up at camp. One could easily visualize Colon and Kemoeatu a few centuries ago dressed in full battle regalia sacking and pillaging villages with the Huns.
* Defensive End Rodney Bailey has come full circle. After leaving the Steelers through free agency and bouncing around the league with New England and Seattle, Rodney is back where he started six years ago. The AC/DC song "Back in Black" not only is a fitting reminder of Rodney's homecoming, it's a song that pulsates with a vibe, and so does Rodney. He's got the look and energy of a man coming home with a determination to make it happen.
Watching him work, one quickly remembers he spent valuable time learning under the departed Kimo von Oelhoffen. His hand-fighting techniques are above average, the club he throws is vintage Kimo. If Bailey can regain the momentum he built up before he left for the big contract, he'll be a valuable addition.
* Quarterback Omar Jacobs is an interesting guy. Once you get past the hair deal, he's a bright and energetic guy who exhibits the athleticism that coaches love and the confidence to use his gifts. The throwing motion reminds you of a baseball catcher's short, snappy delivery on a guy stealing second. Of course it shouldn't surprise anyone that he played and developed his throwing motion from baseball, according to him. And it's almost always a tight spiral.
Omar will have a lot of spare time on his hands while he sits and learns behind Ben and Charlie. Maybe the Pirates should check him out. It will be interesting to see how that side-arm delivery works when it's go time.
* Anthony Smith is the Steelers' pick out of that great institution of higher learning, Syracuse University. Four fumble recoveries and fourteen picks over three years says he not only has a nose for the ball, but he's got hands as well. Six blocked kicks reminds you of Ed Reed, and I'm sure Steelers special teams coach Kevin Spencer will try to highlight Smith's knack for the "double thud" that can turn a game around quickly.
Smith, like all the other young bucks, seemed a bit overloaded by all the defensive assignments when I got to talk with him, but there's no lack of confidence in his on-field mannerisms.
* Nate Washington went deep on Ricardo Colclough in one practice, and followed it up with a big catch over the middle. This guy continues to impress everybody who happens to be watching him. He's running routes with a zippity-do-dah that shows a year well spent in learning the ins and outs of his craft.
* Mike Kudla from THE Ohio State University is a physical stud. If he can lock out on lineman with those impressive pipes hanging from his shoulders that resemble Virginia Hams you cook up on Easter, he's a guy that bears watching. It will be interesting to see if double-digit sack totals in the Big 10 translate to production in the pros.
(Listen to Craig Wolfley with Tunch Ilkin on Fox 970 AM's "In The Locker Room" every weekday morning from 7-10.)