Wednesday Evening Practice Report

GREENSBURG ­ It's not likely that a touchdown pass from Tommy Maddox to tight end Corey Geason is going to happen during the regular season. But it was a Maddox to Geason scoring pass that gave the Steelers offense a decided victory in the teams final planned goal line drill of training camp 2002.

The Steelers held their final open night practice of training camp at Greensburg's Offutt Field Wednesday night before a capacity crowd. And as is the norm for open practices, the session concluded with the first and second team offenses and defenses squaring off from the 5 yard line.

"They scored a couple of times," said head coach Bill Cowher of his offense, which struggled to score inside the 20 yard line last season. "Really, the only way you can practice that is to do it live. It's competitive and it's healthy."

The first team offense stunned the defense, scoring on just two plays. Jerome Bettis took a handoff from Kordell Stewart to get to the 3 on first down. And Amos Zereoue scampered around left end on second down past linebacker Kendrell Bell to score.

Bell insisted he was held by tight end Matt Cushing on the play, but Cowher, who was serving as the referee, was having none of it. "Was it a hold?" he asked. "I was the only one out there and I didn't have a flag in my pocket, so it was no holds barred down there."

With the second units on the field, running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala was stopped on first and second down. On third-and-goal from the 5, Maddox rolled to his right and fired a pass to Geason, who had gotten free between Hank Poteat and Chris Hope.

Corey made a nice play and Tommy made a nice throw, said Cowher. They know a quarterback is not live, so they were a little wary when he got out of the pocket.

In other news, Cowher said tight end Jerame Tuman won't play Sunday against Washington. Tuman has been nursing a abdomen strain for a week now.

Nijrel Eason had another strong practice, breaking up a Kordell Stewart-to-Hines Ward pass down the sidelines on one play and then stepping in front of a Stewart pass to ARE on the next play. Eason didn't intercept the pass, but the kid's always around the ball.

Hank Poteat had the interception of the night, sliding in front of Demetrius Brown on a post to pick off a Tee Martin pass.

The surprising play of the evening came when whipping boy Matt Anderson rolled through Bell on a play, pancaking the Pro Bowler.

Jerome Bettis tried a halfback option pass in the red zone drills that was picked off easily by Ashante Woodyard. --Dale Lolley


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