Notebook: Woodley explodes into first day

Tough love for LaMarr Woodley, not to mention Casey Hampton. Also, good news on the new backs, some minor injuries, a veteran steps in and up, and Mike Tomlin's Day One summation.

PITTSBURGH – LaMarr Woodley showed off his rare combination of power and explosiveness during drills yesterday, but that wasn't enough for Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin.

"Reload it!" Tomlin bellowed after Woodley blew past right tackle Willie Colon during one-on-one pass-blocking drills. "Give me another one!"

When Colon blocked Woodley on the second rep, Tomlin walked away shaking his head. The four other linemen took their turns blocking their respective defender, one rep per pair, but when it came time for Woodley to rush against Max Starks, Tomlin stepped up again.

"I like this matchup here!" he said. "I like this matchup!"

And Woodley beat Starks easily with an inside rush.

"Reload it!" Tomlin yelled.

And this time, to repeat the pattern, Starks blocked Woodley.

"Come on, Wood!" Tomlin hollered. "You can't stand prosperity. I want two in a row!"

Woodley and Starks went at it for a rare third consecutive rep, and Woodley whipped him. The session ended shortly thereafter.

"I was expecting that because all last year, when I was doing the pass-rush drill, I'm always the guy going two or three times," Woodley said after practice. "So when I went over there, I knew I'd be doing the same thing today."

Woodley put the correct and positive spin on his coach's intensity.

"You've got to be able to take coaching and I can," Woodley said. "As long as he's talking to me, that's a good thing. When people stop talking to you, that's when you need to start worrying about stuff."

BLITZ PICKUPS

Rookie No. 1 draft pick Rashard Mendenhall caught and ran as well as expected, but just as importantly he showed off solid blocking skills. In the blitz pickup drill, Mendenhall stuffed Larry Foote. He also fought Lawrence Timmons to a draw.

"I'm not going to pat him on the back just yet," said Tomlin. "The guys are probably being a little nice to him on Day One since he's new to the drill, but he did give a good representation of himself. He's a competitor. We expect big things from him."

Free-agent acquisition Mewelde Moore also fared well, which is critical since Moore's expected to be the team's third-down back this season. Moore stuffed Foote and rookie Bruce Davis.

The defensive stars were Woodley and James Harrison, with Timmons also showing a phantom slip move or two. But the linebackers were quick to point out that cut blocking wasn't allowed. Therefore they didn't have to slow down before impact.

BIG HAMP UPDATE

Casey Hampton spent the morning practice running laps and riding the stationary bike on the sideline. He also endured a few taunts from drunks on the hillside after reporting to camp 25 pounds overweight and being placed on the PUP list.

Said Tomlin: "We have a plan that we believe is conducive to him getting right, provided he commits to it, and that's what we're in the process of doing."

INJURIES

Cornerback Bryant McFadden and safety Anthony Smith couldn't finish practice because of groin problems. They're day to day. Rookie receiver Kevin Marion had a knee sprain. With Chris Kemoeatu (triceps) on the PUP list, veteran Trai Essex was the first-team left guard and drew praise from Tomlin.

"Trai stepped up," he said. "He came in in excellent shape and ran well. The opportunity presented himself at left guard and I thought he took advantage of it. I thought he did well in the one-on-one pass pro."

QUOTABLE

"I thought we had a very productive start today," said Tomlin. "I think the excellent condition of the football team showed up. I like the way the guys ran on both sides of the ball. I like the way they finished, and that's always a good start. Far from perfection, but that's what Day One's all about. Great enthusiasm. Heard great communication. Guys were verbal today, very good for the first day. Overall, good hustle."


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