OTA No. 6

Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer-Reporter steps in today to give his thoughts and make some notes on the Steelers' OTAs. Here's the sixth installment:

As the Pittsburgh Steelers opened their third week of optional coaching sessions, they had a little surprise on the field.

No, that wasn't a second Casey Hampton out there calling the defenses, it was defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau wearing a Hampton game jersey as he worked with his unit. He has worn different jerseys the last three workouts.

LeBeau was wearing the Hampton home jersey as a tribute to his star nose tackle. It was a meaningful gesture, particularly since the tight black jersey could not have been all that cool on a hot, muggy morning.

As he walked off the field, Hampton was asked if it was a smaller jersey than the one he wears.

"No man, that's my regular game jersey. Why do you think I look so fat?" Hampton quipped.

At quarterback, the snaps were split evenly between Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon working with the first unit. Charlie Batch handled a lot of the scout team offense, with Leftwich and Dixon getting a random snap here and there with those units.

Ben Roethlisberger remains a no-show as he awaits clearance from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to return to practice.

Limas Sweed was in attendance at the practice wearing a protective boot on his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Sweed looks to be in good spirits despite the season-ending injury and is confident he'll be able to return in 2011.

The defense was without three starters – James Harrison, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu.

Andre Frazier worked in place of Harrison, with rookie Jason Worilds moving up to the second unit behind him.

Second-year stud Ziggy Hood stepped in for Smith, while free agent acquisition Will Allen continues to fill in for Polamalu, who is working out in California.

Second-year offensive lineman Kraig Urbik continues to get some work at center. He again lined up there with the second-team offensive line at center - though he did draw some ire for a bad snap that scooted through Leftwich's legs with the quarterback under center. The ball never got up to Leftwich's hands.

If Urbik is going to be active on game days - and beat out Doug Legursky for a roster spot - he's going to have to show he's capable of playing more than guard.

Legursky, by the way, continued to play center with the first team.

Rookie Maurkice Pouncey, the team's top draft pick this year, continued to work with the third unit at center. Pouncey also played second-team guard, where the team projects him playing this season.

Rookie cornerback Crezdon Butler drew some praise from secondary coach Ray Horton after getting a great jump on a sideline pass from Dixon and breaking it up. Butler had such a great jump on the ball, you'd like to see him pick that pass off - especially since he got both hands on the ball - but perhaps the Steelers just can't find a corner who can catch.

The rookie who impressed Tuesday was running back Jonathan Dwyer. That's not all that surprising, however, since running back is perhaps the easiest position to pick up when making the transition from college to the NFL.

But Dwyer, a sixth-round draft pick, looks quick and is a very decisive inside runner. He doesn't look like he's got the same pop to the outside, but he hits the hole to the inside very quickly.

The team finished up its practice today with some special teams work, with Piotr Czech handling all of the kickoffs. The Steelers often use a machine to practice its kickoffs, but they have been using both Czech and punter Daniel Sepulveda in that role a lot this spring.

Stefan Logan, Jason Chery and rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders - in that order - handled the returns.


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