With a second preseason game just a couple of days away, the Pittsburgh Steelers skipped their morning practice as head coach Mike Tomlin had the men warm up and stretch and then sent them away.
That was too bad, since it was a scheduled special teams practice. But I focused hard on new punter Mitch Berger during the afternoon session and came away unimpressed.
Berger did all of the punting during the special teams portion of the afternoon practice, as well as all of the holding on Jeff Reed's kicks - though they didn't actually kick any since they were practicing kick block.
Berger's punts aren't any better than Paul Ernster's – the other man vying for Daniel Sepulveda's spot. But he is a little more consistent.
Berger did also show a nice ability to place the ball inside the 20, something Ernster has struggled with.
But while Ernster will kick some occasional 50 and 60 yarders, Berger doesn't seem to have that ability.
Then, there is the situation at holder.
With backup quarterback Charlie Batch on the shelf and Sepulveda out for the season, whoever wins the punting job will be the team's holder on kicks.
Talking to Reed briefly on the sidelines during practice, he wasn't too excited about the prospect of constantly changing holders.
"They're totally different," Reed said with a disgusted look.
I didn't get a chance to follow that up since Reed had to go out on the field, but it can't be a good thing.
A day after being given the Ed Block Courage Award by our Jim Wexell, Trai Essex must have tripped over it during a goal line drill. Essex was pulling from his left guard spot and tripped over center Sean Mahan, falling down and tackling running back Rashard Mendenhall before he could get through the hole.
Rookie cornerback Travis Williams continues to flash good ball skills. He had a beautiful interception of a Byron Leftwich pass in the end zone, easily jumping inside of the intended receiver and grab the ball at the goal line.
Tight end Cody Boyd returned to practice today and made a nice grab in the back of the end zone of a Leftwich pass, recatching the fastball on his knee before pulling it in.
Boyd did drop a pass in the end zone from Leftwich before that, but it seems everyone is making a bit of adjustment to Leftwich's fastball.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.