Aug. 3, P.M. practice report

The Pittsburgh Steelers held just one practice in a day for the first time in this training camp, but it was a spirited one, capped off by the team's first goal-line drill.

The Pittsburgh Steelers held just one practice in a day for the first time in this training camp, but it was a spirited one, capped off by the team's first goal-line drill.

The defense ruled the day in the best-of-seven drill, allowing just two touchdowns – none by the first team – on seven attempts. The offense begged for the seventh attempt after rookie Rashard Mendenhall was stuffed on his first two attempts with the first unit and was stopped for a third time.

And that was without nose tackle Casey Hampton and strong safety Troy Polamalu, two Pro Bowl players, on the field. Both remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Hampton, in fact, wasn't even permitted to watch the practice-ending drill, as he was banished to what he called "his dungeon" on the team's first practice field.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced again today, but continues to be limited by his sore groin.

Sean Mahan was back at center again with the first unit, though I'm told the decision about whether he or Justin Hartwig will start at center will be determined from their play in the first couple of preseason games.

Hartwig looks like the stronger player. He did a nice job against Chris Hoke Sunday in one-on-one drills - no small feat against a player who practices as hard as Hoke – and just gives the team more size up front.

Look for guard Chris Kemoeatu, who's been on the PUP list with an arm injury, to return Monday. The team has been waiting for a special elbow brace to come in for him.

Undrafted rookie Martavius Prince looked like the star of the one-on-one drills today. Prince, a 6-2, 282-pound nose tackle, showed very nice quickness off the snap and a nice swim move to get into the backfield. But you wonder about his size and whether he'll be able to hold the point.

He could be another Kendrick Clancy, a guy who's very quick and could possibly catch on somewhere for a long time, but isn't a fit in a 3-4.

Kyle Clement, on the other hand, looked a step slow today and struggled. Maybe he's getting a little tired, which would make his lack of speed more apparent. Once the strength starts to wane a little bit, the lack of speed becomes very apparent.

Ryan McBean continues to struggle. I just don't see enough out of him to think he's going to win a roster spot on this team. He's improved from last season, but he doesn't bring it every play.

One thing of interest that I hadn't noticed before – and I don't know why – was that fullback Billy Latsko was working as the team's backup long snapper. He's not going to unseat Greg Warren, but he's capable.

Punter Paul Ernster has rebounded from a poor first day with the team to look really good the remainder of this week. He's not Daniel Sepulveda, but the team has to be feeling a little bit better about him after seeing him the remainder of the week.

He's also a kickoff specialist as well. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Still, the Steelers will be taking a long look at the waiver wire for an upgrade if one becomes available.

Mewelde Moore finally got some punt return work, but just one rep. He was first up, however, and was followed by Eddie Drummond, Jeremy Bloom and Willie Reid. Santonio Holmes got a rep as well later.

Drummond appears to be the front-runner for the return spot, which would knock a youngster off the roster.

Micah Rucker made a beautiful leaping catch in the end zone in one-on-one red zone drills, leaping high above Anthony Madison to make the grab. Rucker is raw, but his size is impressive.

Hines Ward put on a clinic in the drill, turning corners every which way to catch touchdowns.

Linebacker Mike Humpal (hamstring), tight end Dezmond Sherrod (neck), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (groin) and safety Anthony Smith (groin) missed practice today. Tight end Cody Boyd was limited.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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