Smith said that due to complications, his wife Kellie underwent a C-section and Smith took care of the baby by himself for a week. He'll have another week of "vacation" as the Steelers are down to only four remaining OTA practices this off-season.
FEISTY BUBBLE BOYS
Practice was a bit chippy Wednesday in the indoor field on the South Side. Colon and Essex each were involved in separate and very brief altercations that resulted in Coach Mike Tomlin scolding the team during and after practice.
"Misguided competitive spirit," Tomlin said afterward. "Those things happen and that's what makes this time of year great because you get an opportunity to address it and the guys get to understand why we do what it is that we do. We need great intensity; we need great competition. But we've got to have great professional etiquette. That's part of us being a world championship-caliber team."
Foote was replaced at his mack inside linebacker spot by Lawrence Timmons and Kirschke was replaced at left defensive end by Nick Eason. Ryan McBean, Kendall Simmons, Deshea Townsend, Najeh Davenport, Willie Parker and Santonio Holmes were sidelined with bumps and bruises.
Ben Roethlisberger's first pass in team scrimmage was intercepted by Ryan Clark off a tip by tight end Heath Miller. ... Gerran Walker beat Anthony Madison on a deep post to haul in a pass from Charlie Batch for a 70-yard touchdown. ... Ike Taylor intercepted a pass. ... Undrafted rookie Kyle Clement was the only down lineman on the first-team "mixer" defense. That's what the Steelers call their third-down quarter defense that involves a roaming Brett Keisel, among others. ... Roethlisberger completed a bomb to Nate Washington, who had soundly beaten two safeties to catch the perfectly thrown pass. ... In 7-on-7, Hines Ward made Catch of the Day by going up to pick a high Roethlisberger fastball out of the air on a deep curl route. On the next play, Ward curled short and James Harrison intercepted the pass for a touchdown. ... Rookie QB Dennis Dixon runs hard and fast, but had to run out of bounds when he couldn't find anyone open. ... Dallas Baker beat William Gay handily on a deep in route on the last play of practice.
Just a quick comment on the new running back: I'm still hesitant with my numbers. In fact, I saw No. 34 and first thought of Verron Haynes. But at the end of an early-practice agility drill, I looked up to see No. 34 moving like a blue-chipper, a blue-chipper with clearly better skills and size than anyone else in his unit (again, Parker was out). No. 34 of course is first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall. He took a handoff during team scrimmage and cut once before bursting through the right side of the line. He's all stallion. I doubt I'll ever again confuse No. 34 with anyone else.