Steelers OTA Workout No. 11

The Steelers completed their third week of OTA workouts. Limas Sweed and Dallas Baker had big days, but Casey Hampton didn't. Also, find out who's returning kickoffs.

PITTSBURGH – It felt a bit like training camp Thursday with the heat and humidity in the region. Maybe that's a good omen for Houston native Limas Sweed. The rookie had one of his best practices yet.

Sweed was used mainly as a deep threat during team scrimmage and on his first attempt beat Anthony Madison, but the pass from Jared Zabransky hung in the air long enough for Madison to recover and swat the ball away.

Two snaps later, Ben Roethlisberger didn't hang anything up. He completed his deep ball to Sweed, who was wide open after beating safety man Mike Lorello on a post. Sweed caught the pass and fell across the end-zone line for a touchdown and the Catch of the Day.

I also asked a couple of scouts to watch Sweed's cuts and they didn't see him cutting off his heels, as one expert had written of Sweed prior to the draft.

Dallas Baker also had a big day. The second-year receiver beat Anthony Smith by at least five yards on a deep crossing pattern to haul in a pass from Charlie Batch. Baker also made a diving catch of another deep Batch pass after beating Grant Mason. Baker, last year's seventh-round draft pick, will be difficult to keep off the roster if he carries his spring performances over into training camp.

A third big receiver, rookie Micah Rucker, beat rookie Travis Williams deep for a touchdown pass from Dennis Dixon. It was one of the few passes Rucker has had the opportunity to catch.

Another one of the better catches was made by tailback Fast Willie Parker, who leaped high to pluck a Dixon pass over the middle.


Casey Hampton, Santonio Holmes and Najeh Davenport continue to miss practices and Coach Mike Tomlin had no comment, other than to say there's nothing significant to be known about either of the players.

Holmes and Davenport have been injured and standing on the sideline at times, but not Hampton. My guess – and I couldn't get confirmation, other than "it might be a good assumption" – is that the nose tackle is off with a personal trainer trying to lose weight. I guess we'll know when he reports to training camp on July 27.

Also missing practice was James Harrison. He was replaced at right outside linebacker by Lawrence Timmons.

Chris Hoke replaced Hampton at nose tackle, of course, but no one was fooled by Hoke wearing jersey No. 98. It did fit him a bit better than it fits Hampton.


The kickoff coverage team included first-teamers LaMarr Woodley, Ike Taylor, Carey Davis and Bryant McFadden, who's been starting in place of the injured Deshea Townsend. Taylor and McFadden are the contain men on the outside.

Working as the kickoff returners were Jeremy Bloom, Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall.

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