Practice report, Aug. 14

LATROBE -- So you thought that the two rookie wide receivers combining for eight catches against Arizona during the first preseason game over the weekend was too good too be true? Well, think again.

In the Pittsburgh Steelers' first practice since Holmes caught four passes for 32 yards and Reid caught four passes for 30 yards in their first professional football game, the dynamic duo was back at it again on the main field at St. Vincent College Monday.

Holmes and Reid made catch after catch from the four Steelers quarterbacks during the two-hour session, but nothing may have been a better indicator of how comfortable these two have become and how talented they truly are than back-to-back plays during 11-on-11 team drills near the end of practice.

With Hines Ward sitting out of team drills because of a sore hamstring, Reid got a chance to run with the first team with the four-receiver set along with Cedrick Wilson, Nate Washington and Holmes. Reid ran a go route down the seam of the field, but was double covered. Ben Roethlisberger floated the pass over cornerback Ricardo Colclough's head just enough for Reid to pause, then leap high in the air to snag the ball as he fell to the ground. Reid then got up and raced to the end zone for a 70-yard score.

As Reid returned to the line of scrimmage, Roethlisberger pulled him aside to go over with him what he should do if that situation ever happens again.

Seemed to me that Reid knew exactly what he was doing, but that's just me.

On the ensuing play, Holmes made a contorting, twisting catch near the far sidelines on a ball thrown by Charlie Batch. Holmes caught the ball and stayed in bounds as cornerback Chidi Iwuoma was in tight coverage.

Although there wasn't much action during this practice, there were some interesting developments:

* Shane Boyd was chastised by Coach Bill Cowher after the preseason game against Arizona for not having touch on his short passes. Boyd must've learned something as he feathered a 5-yard pass underneath to Walter Young.

* The Steelers' third-down defense was awful against the Cardinals as they allowed 6-of-8 conversions in the first half. That must have struck a nerve with Mike Logan who screamed at one point: "It's 3rd-and-five, let's get off the field."

* Just five days after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, center Chukky Okobi returned to practice Monday albeit as a spectator. Okobi took in about half of the afternoon practice before returning to the locker room.

* Tight end Jerame Tuman (hamstring) did not practice, but the team did welcome back tackle Trai Essex, wide receiver Isaac West and fullback Branden Joe.

* Jeff Reed might have missed a 54-yard field goal this past weekend in the first preseason game, but showed no ill-effect to the miss Monday. Reed was a perfect 4-for-4 from distances of 20, 31, 43 and 54 yards. His 54-yarder cleared the uprights by at least 15 yards. Backup Mark Brubaker also went 4-for-4 at the same distances.

* Cowher wasn't too happy with backup long snapper Kyle Andrew's snap on Brubakers 43-yard field goal screaming: "Get the snap there."

* Also, the second team punt unit must've got on the nerves of Cowher as he proclaimed: "Come on, its not that hard."

* During the first team field goal drill, holder Chris Gardocki faked a bad snap and screamed fire to alert the guys up front of a poor snap. Gardocki rolled to the right and hit Jon Dekker for a short gain.

* Kendall Simmons said he planned on practicing some more at center and he did just that Monday as he took a series at the position with the first team during 11-on-11. Chris Kemoeatu replaced Simmons at right guard.

* Wide receiver Sean Morey has had trouble holding onto the ball all training camp long and that continued Monday. Although this time he caught a pass from Omar Jacobs over the middle, Andre Frazier stripped the ball from his hands and Rian Wallace picked it up and returned it for a score.

* Maybe not the prettiest catch of the day, but definitely the most interesting came during 11-on-11 drills when Jacobs fired the ball over the middle that went through linebacker Ronald Stanley's hands into the air and eventually into the hands of Young for a big gain.

* Heath Miller seemingly didn't miss a ball last year as a rookie, but he's dropped a few in training camp. Miller dropped a pass when he was wide open during 11-on-11 drills.

* Two picks on Saturday, one more on Monday. Anthony Smith picked off a pass intended for Holmes by Jacobs.

* Joey Porter had his first contact of spring taking part in linemen drills. His first attempt against Marvel Smith didn't go very well as Smith stopped him in his tracks. Smith then gave way to Ulish Booker, but Porter asked for Smith for one more attempt. This time Porter faked to the inside and spun past Smith and sacked the quarterback.

* Not too many people have been able to stop Brett Keisel all camp long. Who would've thought it wouldve been Essex that would slow down the Diesel for the first time? Essex, in his first day back from a groin injury and first extended play at left guard, stopped Keisel in his tracks on consecutive one-on-one drills.


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