Practice report, Aug. 3

LATROBE -- It's safe to say the defense is ahead of the offense so far through a week of training camp. That was evident -- almost to an extreme -- by the end of practice Thursday, when the defense ...

... pitched a shutout against both the Pittsburgh Steelers' first and second-team offenses during two-minute drills.

"We went eight-and-out. That's 8-0," linebacker Larry Foote boasted afterwards.

"That was good for our first two-minute of the year. We know it takes the offense a little bit longer to get adjusted to our packages. We have at least 80 percent of our defense in and we are ready. We are going to be a couple steps ahead of them."

The first team offense led by Ben Roethlisberger didn't move the ball a yard in four plays. The second team followed that up with four plays that resulted in only one yard. Drops by Sean Morey and Quincy Morgan negated what should've been first downs for Charlie Batch and Co.

Coupled with a win for the defense Wednesday night during the goal-line drill at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium, the defense is now 2-0 over the offense.

"We are not where we need to be right now. We are not on the same page," said running back Verron Haynes. "Obviously it's a little trickier to get 11 guys on offense on the same page. On defense you just have to go out there and run around."

The offense was out of sync from the beginning as Wilson dropped a pass on first down. After Bryant McFadden knocked down a pass on second down , and another pass fell incomplete in the slot on third down, James Harrison sacked Roethlisberger on fourth down to end the session.

"We didn't get anything accomplished but our defense is a tough defense," Wilson said. "We had a couple of mental errors on the offensive side of the ball."

The second team was just as bad. Morey caught a 1-yard pass on first down. After a sack of Batch by Arnold Harrison, drops by Morgan on third down and Morey on fourth down ended the session with only 18 seconds leaving the clock.

"It wasn't much of a two-minute drill," Steelers Coach Bill Cowher said. "We had eight plays and didn't complete a pass."

The poor two-minute drills were the apex of a shoddy afternoon session for the team that saw Ricardo Colclough muff yet another punt, rookie free agent safety Mike Lorello getting beat twice for long touchdown passes, defensive line coach John Mitchell yelling at rookie defensive lineman Orien Harris on two separate occasions. On the injury front, cornerback Deshea Townsend left practice early because of a minor hamstring injury.

"Cowher wasn't impressed with the effort from his team.

"Not really," Cowher said. "We kind of fought through it. We have been up here a week and it's about time that we start raising our standards and make everybody accountable from this day forward. We can't be making the same mistakes. We have to start picking it up a little bit."

Cowher relayed that message to his team after practice in the middle of the field, but according to Foote, the team already knew they were going through the motions before Cowher even said a word.

"We were a little dead today," Foote said. "There is no excuse for that. I think people's legs are a little down today and it showed a little bit."

While the team as a whole looked lethargic, a couple of defensive players -- Brett Keisel and Harrison -- played well. Harrison, who has filled in for Joey Porter the past week at outside linebacker, picked off a Roethlisberger screen pass intended for Willie Parker then later sacked Roethlisberger during the two-minute drill. Harrison also gave Roethlisberger his first contact of camp when he bumped him with his chest to stop the play while rushing during 11-on-11 drills.

As for Keisel, he continued his amazing training camp by thrashing five different offensive linemen during 1-on-1 drills. Keisel was a perfect 5-for-5 in the drill, beating four guys who won't be here in a month -- Barrett Brooks, Ulish Booker, Grayling Love, Brandon Torrey -- but Keisel also sped past All-Pro Alan Faneca with an impressive burst. What made Keisel's performance so impressive was he showed that he could be dominant lining up over either the guard or the tackle.

Also of note, kicker Jeff Reed finally got some action and showed his skills as he made 5-of-5 field goals from 20, 30, 25, 40 and 50 yards. Backup Mark Brubaker equaled the feat with the second team.

Also looking better than normal was left tackle Trai Essex, who looked sharp in 11-on-11 drills Thursday that followed up a strong Wednesday night goal-line drill. Essex is putting his bid in for the extra tackle spot on the Steelers' jumbo package for short-yardage situations. It may not be a harbinger of good things to come for veteran tackle Barrett Brooks.

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