Ben Roethlisberger led the first-team offense to a touchdown in the Steelers' first hurry-up drill of the season.
Starting at the offense's 42-yard line, with 1:31 on the clock, Roethlisberger drove his unit 58 yards for a touchdown by completing five of eight passes. The touchdown throw of 16 yards was hauled in by tight end Heath Miller, who beat linebacker James Farrior down the middle of the field to make the grab. Miller was Roethlisberger's favorite receiver during the drive with three catches.
The most impressive play by Roethlisberger may have occurred when he rolled left to avoid William Gay's blitz from the opposite corner. Roethlisberger then threw across his body over the middle to Hines Ward for a first down at the 16.
Byron Leftwich, who'll likely open the season as the starting quarterback due to Roethlisberger's suspension, was again rusty. He completed short passes to Tyler Grisham and Matt Spaeth, but had an interception dropped by Larry Foote, another pass dropped by Antonio Brown, and missed on two other throws against the second-team defense.
"Our first unit moved the ball fairly well," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Of course, those drills are structured for the continuity of the drill at times. I miss some of the things that go on in the backfield. The defense always has a legitimate beef about pressure on the quarterback and so forth, but what we're looking for is to work on the situation and work the ball down the field and get a couple of critical situations where someone has to make a play at the end. We got that with the first group."
Some lineup notes from the session: Patrick Bailey and Jason Worilds were the second-team outside linebackers; Anthony Madison, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett (nickel) were the second-team cornerbacks; and the second-team offensive line included guards Adrian Jones and Kraig Urbik, who played in place of the injured Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey.
ROOKIE NOT SHY
Thaddeus Gibson came off an impressive – and loud – pass-rushing performance in one-on-one drills Saturday with another impressive – and loud – performance in the backs-on-backers drill Sunday.
In this popular drill, linebackers take a seven-yard run before slamming into a running back who's attempting to pass block. Gibson engaged in some extracurricular pushing and talking with veteran Sean McHugh after winning the rep, and Gibson also had success against Frank Summers. But then Isaac Redman stuffed and flipped Gibson on to his back, and Gibson got up shouting for the coaching staff to give him another chance. It never came.
Redman, who's eight pounds lighter and "a thousand times better" than last training camp, when he starred as a short-yardage runner, said of his blocking: "I've always been a good blocker. Not to toot my own horn, but that's something I've always excelled at, especially from being a wrestler and understanding leverage. I've always been a good pass-blocker."
Of his encounter with Gibson, Redman said, "That was just friendly competition. I was just trying to make the best out of an opportunity. Coach Tomlin came and talked to me at the beginning of practice. He said he was looking at me to see what I was going to do out there."
Redman has also been impressive running the ball the first two days, just as Gibson, the fourth-round pick from Ohio State, has shown well as a pass-rusher.
"At Ohio State they preached that if you can't beat a back, you can't play," Gibson said. "It's a drill I'm used to and have worked a lot at and am not too bad at."
Tomlin was asked what he thought of his brash rookie.
"If you're a linebacker and you're shy, you usually have a problem," Tomlin said. "I don't think he has that problem."
* Summers also made some solid blocks against the linebackers, and ran well out of the "aceback," or one-back, spot during the run-intensive final team scrimmage Sunday. But mainly he's played fullback.
* Rookie linebacker Sylvester Stevenson also met with some pass-rushing success, and later intercepted Charlie Batch's deflected pass in the 7-on-7 drill.
* Leftwich opened the final scrimmage Sunday as the No. 1 quarterback. His most impressive pass occurred after he rolled to his left to escape LaMarr Woodley and threw a 30-yard off-balance bullet to Arnaz Battle, just past the outreached arm of Troy Polamalu.
* Dennis Dixon didn't throw an incompletion during his sparse work in team scrimmages.
* Safety Ryan Mundy is playing with much more confidence this camp. He also laid a wicked hit on Spaeth during the hurry-up session.
* Backup left tackle Tony Hills provided Leftwich with perfect pass protection against Jason Worilds and Ziggy Hood during the hurry-up drill, leading one onlooker to mutter the term "coach killer." And, yes, Hills followed it up by getting whipped by Sunny Harris in his first rep in one-on-one drills.
* Flozell Adams continued to struggle with his pass sets on the right side in one-on-one, which is to be expected after spending so many years at left tackle.