Steelers practice report, Aug. 3

Dale Lolley's practice report from Tuesday includes in-depth analysis on Thaddeus Gibson, Lawrence Timmons, Emmanuel Sanders, more, more, more ...

LATROBE -- The Steelers are entering the dog days of their training camp, that period where things start to settle in before their first preseason game.

After seeing rookie linebacker Thaddeus Gibson tear things up as a pass rusher early in camp, I wanted to see how he looked in coverage.

As it turned out, today's feature was a linebackers on tight ends passing drill and I got a good look at Gibson.

The Ohio State product has some work to do in coverage. A college defensive end, he's a little timid in his dropbacks and was chastised by linebackers coach Keith Butler for trying to anticipate what route tight end Eugene Bright was running against him. He was later chewed out by Coach Mike Tomlin for not going after the ball on another play. Finally, he dove in an attempt to break up a pass to David Johnson, coming up short and allowing Johnson to pick up some yards after the catch. There's a lot of room for improvement in that facet of his game.

The stars of this drill were Lawrence Timmons and Mewelde Moore.

Tomlin called for that matchup a couple of times, saying, "This is the one I want to see, this is a Sunday matchup."

Timmons had great coverage in the flat on the first matchup, breaking up a pass from Byron Leftwich.

On their next pairing, Moore gave Timmons a head fake and went deep. Timmons got caught six or seven yards behind him when Leftwich released the ball. But Timmons closed quickly on the play and broke it up. It could have been a pass interference penalty since Timmons didn't get his head around, but with no referees here today, we'll call it a good play.

Moore got his revenge in red zone drills, beating Timmons in coverage for a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

The first two offensive units were both strong in the red zone, with Roethlisberger and Leftwich, who took the second group, both looking good.

Rookie Emmanuel Sanders had a nice leaping TD catch from Leftwich on his first throw between William Gay and Ryan Mundy for a score. Sanders continues to look impressive. He looks like a solid route runner and has a nice feel for the open spots on the field.

Leftwich's final throw was picked off - the first by the defense during an 11-on-11 drill in this camp - when a blitzing Tuff Harris tipped a pass into the air and it was intercepted by Crezdon Butler.

Rookie Antonio Brown showed a nice feel for the game working with Dennis Dixon on the final series, catching three of Dixon's five pass attempts.

In other news, linebacker Andre Frazier and rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer both ran sprints at the start of practice and look very close to returning to the field.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall was back doing drills today, but took things easy in the team portion. He missed practice Monday after getting his foot stepped on.

Nose tackle Casey Hampton, guard Ramon Foster and guard/center Maurkice Pouncey all returned today from injuries.

Rookie linebacker Jason Worilds sat out with a hamstring injury.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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