July 28, A.M. Practice Report

The Pittsburgh Steelers held their first practice of the 2008 training camp and it was not without some drama.

The Pittsburgh Steelers held their first practice of the 2008 training camp and it was not without some drama.

Early in the 11-on-11 portion of practice, wide receiver Willie Reid caught a pass over the middle and was promptly blasted off his feet by safety Anthony Smith. Reid popped up off the ground and fired a perfect spiral right at Smith, with a shoving match ensuing before the two could be separated by teammates.

It was a replay of training camp last season when Smith blasted Reid on several occasions. Neither man will say that there are any hard feelings between the two - in fact, their lockers are next to each other at the team's facility – but Reid obviously didn't appreciate the hit in what is supposed to be a non-contact drill.

Later in practice, Reid cracked back to block linebacker Andre Frazier on a run by Rashard Mendenhall and those two locked up and had to be separated by teammates.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a long talk with Reid after practice. I overheard him telling Reid to let that stuff go and let the defensive coaches handle Smith.

Reid, who is clearly on the bubble in this camp, apparently isn't going down without a fight.

With nose tackle Casey Hampton, left guard Chris Kemoeatu and safety Troy Polamalu on the PUP, the starters at their positions were Chris Hoke (no surprise), Trai Essex (something of a surprise) and Tyrone Carter (no surprise).

That would suggest that Essex has an inside shot at being one of the main backups this season because he plays both tackle and guard – despite the team's drafting of Tony Hills and Max Starks' huge contract.

Hampton spent the practice working with conditioning assistant Marcel Pastoor, walking, doing some light jogging and then riding a stationary bike.

Sean Mahan opened with the first team at center, with Justin Hartwig working with the second team for most of practice. Late in the 11-on-11, Hartwig saw some time with the first team.

With Essex working with the first team, Hills was the second-team left tackle. Darnell Stapleton and Matt Lentz were the second team guards.

Scott Paxson was the second team nose tackle.

Jeremy Bloom, Santonio Holmes, Travis Williams and Reid worked as the punt returners. I'm not sure why Mewelde Moore wasn't in the mix, but we'll keep an eye on that situation as it unfolds.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter


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