Practice report: Tuesday, Aug. 18

UNITY TWP. -- Ben Roethlisberger threw strong and accurate passes today as the Steelers completed all but one red-zone pass in team and 7-on-7 drills combined.

After practice, Roethlisberger wondered why the media made such a big deal about his sore arm the first week of camp – the sore arm he brought up to both the media and the trainer as he nursed it along. Roethlisberger also told the mass of assembled media that the young prospects are improving and that the offense overall needs to get better, not just the run game. There was a humorous moment in what was an otherwise futile scrum session. When asked for a reaction about the Brett Favre signing by Favre-reaction-getter Tim Benz, Roethlisberger said that Favre had figured out how to avoid training camp and that he might try the same trick next year.

Coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he had a reaction to the Favre signing, and he said "none." And he was thanked for it.

The second star behind Roethlisberger on Tuesday was speedy rookie receiver Mike Wallace. His routes are becoming more crisp, as surely Ike Taylor would admit to by now. Wallace cut in front of Taylor for an easy third-down conversion, and on the next snap did the same on the other side of the field to Deshea Townsend. Wallace also caught a floating fade pass for a score from Charlie Batch against the first-team defense. Later, he flashed his beep-beep speed on consecutive plays: a reverse and a bubble screen. Wallace's debut will be highly anticipated by Steelers fans.

Rookie David Johnson had a perfect blocking day in the one-on-one drills with the linebackers, but he dropped a pass to his chest while all alone in the end zone during red-zone work. Reporter Mike Prisuta quipped, "He has to be the sickest man in America," in subtly comparing Johnson to Jackie Smith, the Cowboys tight end who dropped a touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Steelers.

Tomlin installed silent counts today in anticipation of the first away game, and predictably the rookies had some problems. The young backs in particular had to be moved and motioned as they worked to understand the concepts and communications.

In a rare Hines Ward note – since we sometimes forget to pay attention to the veterans – the receiver was running past Donovan Woods in pursuit of a slow-falling wobbler from Roethlisberger, and Ward's laughter could be heard on the sideline as the play seemed to unfold in slow motion. Ward caught the pass and laughed all the way to the end zone.

On the injury front, Mewelde Moore returned to work in individual drills, so only Darnell Stapleton and Sean McHugh (knee) missed practice with injuries. Nick Eason strained a calf and left practice, but Tomlin commented that the team is blessed to have such good health.


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