The practices have gotten better for the most part, but there are certainly some players separating themselves from the pack in the battle for the final few roster spots.
Linebacker Arnold Harrison continues to flash from his outside spot and was the star of what will likely be the last back-on-backs drill of this camp.
Harrison, doing his best James Harrison impression, hit rookie tight end Charles Davis so hard he not only jarred his helmet off, he knocked a contact out of his eye. Harrison then finished the drill on his last chance by beating starting running back Willie Parker.
In the battle of mouths, Verron Haynes beat Joey Porter, but not before Porter pushed the quarterback for the drill, none other than Cowher. Not to be outdone, James Harrison bumped into Cowher two plays later. No respect for the outgoing coach, perhaps?
During scout team drills, Roethlisberger and Nate Washington made rookie corner Anthony Madison look silly as the quarterback rolled to his right and Washington took off down the sideline. Madison stayed at home and Washington caught the ball 15 yards behind him for an easy score.
Later, with a pass eerily similar to the one Tom Brady threw against the Steelers in the AFC Championship two years ago to Deion Branch, Roethlisberger hooked up with Cedrick Wilson deep working against Chidi Iwuoma.
Apparently feeling sorry for beleaguered cornerback Colclough, Shane Boyd took matters into his own hands, rolled to his right on one play and threw the ball directly to Colclough, who was in zone coverage with no one else around. By the way, Colclough looks much more comfortable in zone coverage than in man. That was stressed a couple of plays later when Willie Reid burned Colclough down the sideline for a nice gain on a well-thrown pass by Omar Jacobs.
During the final team session, Holmes showed a little hotdog when he caught a deep pass working against Anthony Smith and Bryant McFadden. Holmes reached up on the run and took the ball away from Smith, then held the ball aloft as he ran into the end zone. Better watch that one kid.
Boyd ran the only one-minute drill at the end of practice and successfully maneuvered the team into field-goal range. There was not a second-team one-minute drill.
Sean Morey missed practice and has a cast on his left hand. Cowher said it's nothing serious and that Morey should be back Thursday. Since he's not expected to catch the ball anyway, playing with a cast shouldn't be a problem.
A couple of other observerations: Cedrick Humes still runs too high and is going to get his head taken off; Lee Vickers just isn't physical enough to play at this level. He has the athleticism, but needs to put on more muscle; The next guy to block James Harrison one- on-one on a regular basis will be the first; and Trai Essex looked good in one-on-one blocking drills today, maybe the best of all the second-string linemen.
(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)