Hoke gets the show started

Only two practices remain this spring for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here are the notes from OTA #12 Tuesday at Heinz Field:

PITTSBURGH – After a well-deserved day off to go bowling, the players' spirits were high to start the final week of spring drills Tuesday, and it helped the Steelers to practice at lush Heinz Field.

The players chanted and clapped during the stretch, and defensive tackle Chris Hoke did some type of jig at the front of the group.

What were the players chanting?

"Oh, it has something to do with Hokie," said defensive line coach John Mitchell.

"It's just something they do," Hoke explained after practice. "See, we never did that clap before. This year is the first year we started doing the clapping (during stretch). One time back in minicamp I was messing around, started doing a little dosido. Now it's become a little tradition thing. Guys want it. Usually I do it at the end of the week, the last day of the week of practicing, but today was a special day. We're at Heinz Field, so they wanted to see a little dosido from the Hokie."

Once the dosido ended, the work began. These were the highlights of OTA #12:

* Ben Roethlisberger's passing and running stood out. For more, see the story on the front page.

* The Steelers' roster is at 89. There are four exemptions for the NFL Europe players and there are six unsigned draft picks, putting the Steelers officially at 79 players. They're allowed to have 80. As the draft picks sign and put the roster over the limit, players will be released.

* It's Sean Mahan's week to play center with the first team. And for the first time Chukky Okobi is playing center on the second-team line instead of guard.

* Willie Colon was the first-team right tackle with Max Starks as the second-team left tackle. This is the third of four practice weeks that Colon has spent with the first team, either as the center or right tackle.

* The rest of the second-team O-line was Trai Essex at left guard, Marvin Philip at right guard and Brandon Torrey at right tackle.

* James Harrison missed practice and was replaced by Arnold Harrison.

* Marcello Church returned to practice and got himself noticed by running by Starks for what would've been a sack in a scrimmage situation.

* Troy Polamalu ran a long way to break up a screen pass to rookie fullback Aaron Robbins.

* Jovon Johnson intercepted a Charlie Batch floater intended for tight end Jon Dekker in the end zone.

* Johnson was later beaten deep by undrafted rookie Erik Fowler, who turned and dove at the last instant to catch Charlie Batch's touchdown pass with his left hand only. It was the second one-handed catch Fowler made Tuesday.

* Johnson also got beat by Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown pass.

* Roethlisberger tried to hit rookie tight end Matt Spaeth with a deep pass down the middle of the field, but Spaeth was smothered in coverage by Ricardo Colclough and Anthony Madison.

* Madison took a hot pass off the facemask during cornerback drills, but that wasn't the reason Colclough was the Steelers' nickel back yesterday.

* Colclough appears to be a lock to make the team. He's much faster and more fluid than the rest of the reserve defensive backs, and he has the added value of being a return man.

* Ouch. Yes, Colclough's still returning punts and now kickoffs.

* Undrafted rookie Darnell Stapleton finally got some reps at center – in the 7-on-7 drill only.

(To read the transcript of the interview with Chris Hoke, click here.)


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – After a well-deserved day off to go bowling, the players' spirits were high to start the final week of spring drills Tuesday, and it helped the Steelers to practice at lush Heinz Field. \r\n

The players chanted and clapped during the stretch, and defensive tackle Chris Hoke did some type of jig at the front of the group.\r\n

What were the players chanting?\r\n

\"Oh, it has something to do with Hokie,\" said defensive line coach John Mitchell.\r\n

\"It's just something they do,\" Hoke explained after practice. \"See, we never did that clap before. This year is the first year we started doing the clapping (during stretch). One time back in minicamp I was messing around, started doing a little dosido. Now it's become a little tradition thing. Guys want it. Usually I do it at the end of the week, the last day of the week of practicing, but today was a special day. We're at Heinz Field, so they wanted to see a little dosido from the Hokie.\"\r\n

Once the dosido ended, the work began. These were the highlights of OTA #12:

\r\n* Ben Roethlisberger's passing and running stood out. For more, see the story on the front page.

\r\n* The Steelers' roster is at 89. There are four exemptions for the NFL Europe players and there are six unsigned draft picks, putting the Steelers officially at 79 players. They're allowed to have 80. As the draft picks sign and put the roster over the limit, players will be released.

\r\n* It's Sean Mahan's week to play center with the first team. And for the first time Chukky Okobi is playing center on the second-team line instead of guard.

\r\n* Willie Colon was the first-team right tackle with Max Starks as the second-team left tackle. This is the third of four practice weeks that Colon has spent with the first team, either as the center or right tackle.

\r\n* The rest of the second-team O-line was Trai Essex at left guard, Marvin Philip at right guard and Brandon Torrey at right tackle.

\r\n* James Harrison missed practice and was replaced by Arnold Harrison.

\r\n* Marcello Church returned to practice and got himself noticed by running by Starks for what would've been a sack in a scrimmage situation.

\r\n* Troy Polamalu ran a long way to break up a screen pass to rookie fullback Aaron Robbins.

\r\n* Jovon Johnson intercepted a Charlie Batch floater intended for tight end Jon Dekker in the end zone.

\r\n* Johnson was later beaten deep by undrafted rookie Erik Fowler, who turned and dove at the last instant to catch Charlie Batch's touchdown pass with his left hand only. It was the second one-handed catch Fowler made Tuesday.

\r\n* Johnson also got beat by Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown pass.

\r\n* Roethlisberger tried to hit rookie tight end Matt Spaeth with a deep pass down the middle of the field, but Spaeth was smothered in coverage by Ricardo Colclough and Anthony Madison.

\r\n* Madison took a hot pass off the facemask during cornerback drills, but that wasn't the reason Colclough was the Steelers' nickel back yesterday.

\r\n* Colclough appears to be a lock to make the team. He's much faster and more fluid than the rest of the reserve defensive backs, and he has the added value of being a return man.

\r\n* Ouch. Yes, Colclough's still returning punts and now kickoffs.

\r\n* Undrafted rookie Darnell Stapleton finally got some reps at center – in the 7-on-7 drill only.

\r\n(To read the transcript of the interview with Chris Hoke, click here.)\r\n\r\n\r\n

","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – After a well-deserved day off to go bowling, the players' spirits were high to start the final week of spring drills Tuesday, and it helped the Steelers to practice at lush Heinz Field. \r\n

The players chanted and clapped during the stretch, and defensive tackle Chris Hoke did some type of jig at the front of the group.\r\n

What were the players chanting?\r\n

\"Oh, it has something to do with Hokie,\" said defensive line coach John Mitchell.\r\n

\"It's just something they do,\" Hoke explained after practice. \"See, we never did that clap before. This year is the first year we started doing the clapping (during stretch). One time back in minicamp I was messing around, started doing a little dosido. Now it's become a little tradition thing. Guys want it. Usually I do it at the end of the week, the last day of the week of practicing, but today was a special day. We're at Heinz Field, so they wanted to see a little dosido from the Hokie.\"\r\n

Once the dosido ended, the work began. These were the highlights of OTA #12:

\r\n* Ben Roethlisberger's passing and running stood out. For more, see the story on the front page.

\r\n* The Steelers' roster is at 89. There are four exemptions for the NFL Europe players and there are six unsigned draft picks, putting the Steelers officially at 79 players. They're allowed to have 80. As the draft picks sign and put the roster over the limit, players will be released.

\r\n* It's Sean Mahan's week to play center with the first team. And for the first time Chukky Okobi is playing center on the second-team line instead of guard.

\r\n* Willie Colon was the first-team right tackle with Max Starks as the second-team left tackle. This is the third of four practice weeks that Colon has spent with the first team, either as the center or right tackle.

\r\n* The rest of the second-team O-line was Trai Essex at left guard, Marvin Philip at right guard and Brandon Torrey at right tackle.

\r\n* James Harrison missed practice and was replaced by Arnold Harrison.

\r\n* Marcello Church returned to practice and got himself noticed by running by Starks for what would've been a sack in a scrimmage situation.

\r\n* Troy Polamalu ran a long way to break up a screen pass to rookie fullback Aaron Robbins.

\r\n* Jovon Johnson intercepted a Charlie Batch floater intended for tight end Jon Dekker in the end zone.

\r\n* Johnson was later beaten deep by undrafted rookie Erik Fowler, who turned and dove at the last instant to catch Charlie Batch's touchdown pass with his left hand only. It was the second one-handed catch Fowler made Tuesday.

\r\n* Johnson also got beat by Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown pass.

\r\n* Roethlisberger tried to hit rookie tight end Matt Spaeth with a deep pass down the middle of the field, but Spaeth was smothered in coverage by Ricardo Colclough and Anthony Madison.

\r\n* Madison took a hot pass off the facemask during cornerback drills, but that wasn't the reason Colclough was the Steelers' nickel back yesterday.

\r\n* Colclough appears to be a lock to make the team. He's much faster and more fluid than the rest of the reserve defensive backs, and he has the added value of being a return man.

\r\n* Ouch. Yes, Colclough's still returning punts and now kickoffs.

\r\n* Undrafted rookie Darnell Stapleton finally got some reps at center – in the 7-on-7 drill only.

\r\n(To read the transcript of the interview with Chris Hoke, click here.)\r\n\r\n\r\n

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