Practice report

UNITY TWP. -- With Hines Ward, Sonny Harris, Justin Hartwig and Lawrence Timmons sitting out with minor injuries ...

... the Pittsburgh Steelers practiced as dark clouds rolled into the Latrobe area. The initial scrimmage was a third-down passing workout and Ben Roethlisberger was hot. He got help on the first play by a diving Limas Sweed. By the time the crowd settled down from that catch, they were back on their feet as Mike Wallace held on after being rocked by William Gay. Sweed then beat Keenan Lewis by leaping high to make another great catch along the deep sideline. Roethlisberger gave way to Charlie Batch, who stretched the completion streak to 10. Wallace caught a pass over the middle and sprinted 20-plus yards as his pal Lewis gave a cushion that showed respect for Wallace's speed. The completion streak ended on Dennis Dixon's first pass, which was knocked away by Ike Taylor.

The second scrimmage dealt with the 2-minute drill as the rain poured down. Sweed dropped the first pass, a short, easy ball over the middle. Troy Polamalu stopped the first-team offense by intercepting Roethlisberger over the middle.

Batch directed the second team to the 14-yard line, but the drive stalled as Wallace dropped an easy pass and Batch overthrew Martin Nance, Sean McHugh and Brandon Williams.

Dixon took over the third team and had an interception dropped by rookie Joe Burnett, who could've taken it for a touchdown. A pass interference call on Keenan Lewis moved the ball to the 3 as the physical rookie heard his coach tell him to "play the ball at some point." A draw to Justin Vincent was stuffed by Chris Hoke, and it caused the first-team linebackers to come out yelling at the offense that it had better keep throwing the ball. It was reminiscent of the old-fashioned goal-line drills with Joey Porter and Lee Flowers hollering at Jerome Bettis. So Dixon dropped back to pass and threw high in the corner to Shaun McDonald, who couldn't make the catch. Vincent then ran right on a fake QB option left for a 2-yard touchdown.

Line drills were next, and this time the outside linebackers were invited. Bruce Davis, wearing No. 50, was stuffed by Max Starks, and up stepped Tony Hills to play left tackle. He stopped Davis the first time, but Davis ran by him a second time. He slipped and Hills fell on top of him. Hills never did recover as Davis beat him three more times.

Kraig Urbik, on the other hand, had a better day than he did Saturday. Ziggy Hood blew past Urbik on the first rep, and, after a tie, Urbik whipped Hood and drew raves from his teammates. Urbik even stopped Aaron Smith a few snaps later.

Neither Hills nor Urbik played as well as Ramon Foster in the one-on-one drills. Playing left guard, Foster planted Jordan Reffett, beat him again, and, after planting Scott Paxson later, Foster heard Larry Zierlein holler, "We're having a Ramon day!"

Jason Capizzi only received a few reps. He appeared to get beat by Andre Frazier, but stopped Davis on the final snap.

A physical run-game scrimmage ended the day. Hills may have had his best moment yet when he turned Brett Keisel on one play, but it was Foster once again who showed that he may be a real keeper. Foster pulled twice from left guard and once blew open a hole on the right side for Rashard Mendenhall. The practice came to an end when Frank "The Tank" Summers ran around the right corner and was rocked by cornerback William Gay. The Tank left his feet and the ball left his hands to the delirium of the defense, as Carey Davis fell on the loose ball.

Mike Tomlin quotes:

Q: Was it wet enough for you?

A: Nah, not enough. We don't worry about things we can't control, weather being one of them. We came here to work today, and I thought they did. There was no lightning, so there was no real danger. I thought it was a real productive day, a little ebb and flow, very physical practice, which is what we desire.

Q: What about Lawrence Timmons sitting out?

A: Yeah, we were a little cautious with him. He wasn't able to finish yesterday due to cramps. We held him out today and will start fresh with him tomorrow, see what he looks like. No other new news in regard to the health of some of the people we've been talking about.

Q: What about Sonny Harris?

A: Oh, yeah. Sonny had a strained groin. I'm sorry. It was one of those things that happen when you start doing the unanticipated movements on the football field. Hopefully he'll go tomorrow and if not probably the next day.

Q: Limas said he feels comfortable. Do you see it that way?

A: I'll just continue to watch and let it reveal itself to me. It's a little early to start taking pictures about where he is or where anyone is at this point. That's the nature of training camp – good practices, bad practices. Over the long haul I'm looking for consistency. It was obvious he had a good day today, but that doesn't tell us much.

Q: Did Frank Summers have a welcome-to-the-NFL moment at the end there?

A: Well, he's had a few. We have some guys who – well, when you carry a nickname like ‘The Tank', guys are going to try you. They want him to prove that that nickname's earned.

Q: What do you appreciate about Ryan Clark?

A: The thing that I appreciate about Ryan Clark, and it's a special talent, is he doesn't have a bad day. He's always up. He's mentally tough. Those are the things I appreciate about him. His story's his story, but we've got a lot of guys with stories. That's what's great about this game.


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