Aug. 6, P.M. practice report

With the first game of the 2008 preseason looming, there were very few players standing around on the sidelines Wednesday afternoon as the Pittsburgh Steelers practiced here at Saint Vincent College.

Everybody wants to be back on the field in time to play in the opener, but head coach Mike Tomlin ruled out safety Anthony Smith and tight end Cody Boyd.

Boyd, who has a shoulder injury, practiced in all of the non-contact drills, while Smith, who returned Wednesday for the first time in more than a week, jumped right back in where he left off – being a knucklehead.

Only this time, Smith wasn't decking Willie Reid unnecessarily as he did on the opening day of training camp before suffering a groin injury. No, this time Smith leveled Hines Ward during a seven-on-seven drill.

As Ward lay on the ground, one of the coaches – I'm not sure who – yelled at Smith, "Are you out of your God damn mind?"

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau went to Smith as Ward finally got up, put his arm around the safety and tried to explain for what seems to be the 20th time why that stuff just can't happen. But Smith apparently just doesn't get it – and maybe he never will.

Outside of that little bit of action, Wednesday afternoon's session was pretty much a run-of-the-mill practice.

Martavius Prince continues to catch my eye in one-on-one pass rushing drills. He's very quick off the ball and shows good change of direction. The kid could be somebody to watch in the game Friday, though as the No. 3 nose tackle, he'll likely be going against sub-par players.

He's been doing a lot of his good work against the Jeremy Parquett's of the world, but he did beat up Darnell Stapleton Wednesday. He didn't get around Stapleton, but he did push him upfield into the quarterback's lap.

Mewelde Moore is very good split out wide like a receiver on third downs. He catches the ball on the run like a receiver and has some nifty moves out there. He's going to be a weapon for this team.

While the first-team offensive line is what it has been, the aforementioned Parquett appears to have worked his way onto the second-team unit at right tackle. He looks too heavy footed to me to play that position, so maybe it was just the fact the team wanted to look at Max Starks at left tackle with the second unit. The interior consisted of Stapleton at right guard, Justin Hartwig at center and Trai Essex at left guard.

The Steelers used punter Paul Ernster on some kickoffs today and that may be a niche he can fill. Ernster was a kickoff specialist for Denver a couple of years ago, picking up 19 touchbacks.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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