Reed's prank disappoints, highlights morning

UNITY TWP. – When Bill Cowher coached the Pittsburgh Steelers, a fleet of buses outside the locker room before a morning practice meant ...

... that practice would be cancelled for a trip to the movie theater.

On Thursday, the last full day of camp for Mike Tomlin's Steelers, it meant an elaborate practical joke by kicker Jeff Reed.

"I tried to do it (Wednesday) afternoon," said Reed. "But since the practice was open to the public Coach Tomlin said it probably wouldn't be a good idea."

Tomlin was in on it. So was security chief Jack Kearney. The other kicking specialists, of course, knew as well.

Under Cowher, the players would've walked down to the practice field and Cowher would've called it a day to much whooping and hollering. Instead, Tomlin told them it was a joke by Reed and to get to work.

"A little mental warfare," Tomlin said. "Sometimes people need to be horribly disappointed and then asked to perform."

How did they perform?

"They did pretty well," Tomlin said.

Will there be any payback for Reed?

"If you want to get me back, I'll get you back better," Reed warned. "I can take it, but I can definitely dish, and that was one of my better dishes."

PLANS FOR WASHINGTON

Tomlin addressed the media Thursday morning to talk about the Saturday night preseason game in Washington. He said the starters would play "maybe a quarter and some change, what we normally do. We're going to extend their play a bit by maybe at least a series than what we did last time out, but we'll always play it by ear."

Charlie Batch will play, but Tomlin said he's looking to give more time at quarterback to second-year man Dennis Dixon.

"We're committed to the development of the young guys," Tomlin said.

However, Tomlin wouldn't reveal his plans for the young short-yardage group of fullback Frank Summers, H-back David Johnson and tailback Isaac Redman.

Neither would Tomlin divulge injury information, but he did say that former CFL star Stefan Logan would "get the first look this week at both punts and kick returns."

"It's always an opportunity of a lifetime," said the 5-6, 180-pound Logan. "You want to get out here and show the team what you can do, because they've seen what I can do in OTAs and so far in training camp, so I get the chance to show what I can do in a game."

SEVENTH ROUNDER IMPRESSES

Johnson – the tight end who lined up in front of Redman for the first goal-line touchdown Sunday against the first-team defense – is in a roster battle with veteran Sean McHugh. The 6-2, 260-pounder is more blocker than receiver, something the team has needed at the position.

"He's good. He's got a lot of potential," said Heath Miller. "He's big but he's not that tall, so he's got a lot of leverage on people. He's explosive, too."

Has Johnson done anything in particular to surprise Miller?

"When I saw him moving him around and saw the way he exploded in the springtime, I kind of had guarded optimism because you never know how guys are going to play when you put the pads on,"

Miller said. "But he looked good in the spring and he's definitely looked pretty good here in camp."

THE LATROBE STEELERS

With the Steelers breaking camp on Friday, Tomlin was asked if he'd like to keep the team at St. Vincent College a little longer.

"You know, I wouldn't mind being the Latrobe Steelers," he said. "We'll play the whole season out of here. I love it because I don't have to deal with the problems of life, man. I don't have to take my trash out on Tuesdays or anything else. I'd just have my kids and my wife up a couple days a week and have dinner with them and then get back to business. That's just my mentality. I'm not sure that everybody shares my approach."

DILEMMA BREWING FOR CLARK, STEELERS

Ryan Clark at first expressed skepticism about playing this season in Denver after his last trip there resulted in the loss of his spleen and gall bladder.

Even though doctors have told him there are no organs left for his sickle cell trait to attack, Clark's feelings about playing in Denver on Nov. 9 are growing more negative.

"Who says I even have to play?" he asked a reporter on Sunday.

Tomlin said he's still gathering information on the situation and hasn't made any type of decision.

When told that Clark doesn't want to even make the trip, Tomlin said, "If it's a life-threatening situation, who would blame him? But that's a story for Denver week."


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