July 29, P.M. Practice Report

A good afternoon practice was ruined by news that punter Daniel Sepulveda will be lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the season with a torn ACL.

A good afternoon practice was ruined by news that punter Daniel Sepulveda will be lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the season with a torn ACL.

It was an interesting session up to the point of that news as I watched plenty of individual drills.

The running backs were working hard on ball protection and power running.

One drill consisted of a running back moving with the ball in one hand and two other backs grabbing and pulling at his arm to try to cause a fumble.

Mewelde Moore yanked the ball free from rookie Rashard Mendenhall twice – once from each arm – and coach Kirby Wilson screamed with joy, "There you go. That's the way. You just made him better."

Perhaps it did. After Mendenhall fumbled the first time, he did not do so again.

I then went over to watch the tight ends work with the outside linebackers on run blocking and was a little surprised at who the team's best blocker was. Cody Boyd, who was released in camp last year, consistently got a push no matter who lined up opposite him.

There's a spot open for a third tight end with Jerame Tuman not coming back and given that Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are better receivers than blockers, we can assume the team is looking for a guy who can block well.

Boyd might be on his way to proving he's that guy.

One other thing that I noticed was that third-round pick Bruce Davis, a linebacker, needs to get stronger. He struggled to get any push against anyone he faced in this drill.

Sean Mahan again got the bulk of the work with the first unit in the team portion of the afternoon, with Justin Hartwig only getting a few reps with that group.

Max Starks also got some work today at left tackle with the second unit, but that could be because Trai Essex is working with the first team at left guard and Tony Hills is nowhere near ready to make that jump.

In fact, I've been less than impressed with Hills, a fourth-round pick. He doesn't seem to have the feet to play left tackle. Maybe that will change as he becomes more comfortable, but he's being beaten around the end on a regular basis at this point and may be better suited to play guard. That would be a huge blow to the team's future plans.

Deshea Townsend opened the 11-on-11 drills with a nifty interception of Ben Roethlisberger, stepping in front of a pass intended for Hines Ward.

It was one of the few big plays for the defense in team drills as the first and second-team offenses both scored touchdowns in the two-minute drill.

Roethlisberger overcame a first-down sack to lead the first unit to a score. He finished the drive off with a beautiful throw to Nate Washington in the back of the end zone in front of the goal post, with Washington deftly getting both feet down. William Gay and James Farrior were in coverage.

Charlie Batch picked apart the second defensive unit, completing all seven of his passes, including the final two to Limas Sweed. Sweed finished the drive off with a TD catch off a fade pass over Anthony Madison.

In addition to Sepulveda, Anthony Smith and Bryant McFadden, both of who have groin injuries, and wide receiver Kevin Marion (knee) did not practice in the afternoon. Offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet also appeared to leave the field early due to an undisclosed injury.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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