Mini mini-camp thoughts

Some mini-thoughts and musings from the Steelers mini-camp.

This is the time of year when the young guys get a little welcome from the veterans as they settle into what will become the rigors of professional football.

Nicknames are given out. Rookies are screamed at by coaches who want to show their tough side. Guys are taken under wings.

Sometimes, you can tell a lot about a player by where the coaching staff puts him in the locker room. If he's nestled into a veteran area beside a key player at his position, the staff thinks highly of the kid and wants him to learn from that veteran.

Or sometimes, they'll put a kid next to somebody who grew up in the same area to make things a little more like home.

It's all part of the team-building process here in Pittsburgh. It's also part of the family atmosphere the players like to build in the locker room.

That's why it's no surprise to see 2008 rookie of the year Patrick Bailey giving pointers to rookie Tom Korte of Hillsdale College coming off the field.

It also makes things interesting for undrafted rookie free agent defensive lineman Jeff Bradley – son of Steelers linebacker Ed Bradley (1972-75) – who's nestled into a locker between Aaron Smith and LaMarr Woodley.

And it's why 5-7 tailback/return man Stefan Logan has already been dubbed "Half Pint" by his new teammates.

These guys generally all get along and really work hard at it. They make new guys feel welcome, no how big or small their pedigree happens to be.

It's why, as Willie Parker put it Friday, guys are Steelers for life.

© Rashard Mendenhall looks good running with the ball - more confident and showing no ill effects from the shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2008.

This is a big year for Mendenhall and the Steelers. If he proves he can be an effective NFL running back, the team will let Willie Parker walk at the end of the season.

If he can't, the team is going to have to give serious thought to re-signing Parker, something that could be quite costly.

© It doesn't appear that Keiwan Ratliff is going to have any problems getting acclimated to this defense.

He's already picking off passes in practice and showing good ball skills.

Having played a Cover-2 at Indianapolis, Ratliff is very comfortable in the zone coverages the Steelers play.

© Deshea Townsend has gotten more than a couple of snaps at safety, something he's done in the past.

But with the talented young players and veteran additions this team now has at cornerback, safety may be the way Townsend makes this team.

© Dennis Dixon looks worlds ahead of where he was last year when he came to mini-camp as a rookie. Then again, the quarterback wasn't even expected to take a snap at mini-camp being less than six months removed from ACL surgery.

Still, Dixon looks like he could push Charlie Batch - who looks rusty - for the No. 2 spot behind Ben Roethlisberger.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter

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