Practice Report, Aug. 6

Dale Lolley wonders if there'll be a new kickoff specialist on duty. Also, Jonathan Dwyer had a full night at the annual Friday night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Full details follow:

LATROBE – Figuring out a way to solve its shoddy kickoff coverage was a focus during the offseason for the Steelers. And the solution may have been right in front of Mike Tomlin all along as punter Daniel Sepulveda showed off his kickoff skills Friday night in a the team's annual practice in downtown Latrobe.

Even though Sepulveda slipped on his first kick, he sent it eight yards deep into the end zone with a hang time of 3.7 seconds.

His next three kickoffs had hang times of 3.93, 4.07 and 3.87 seconds, with each one going at least to the 2, causing Coach Mike Tomlin to exclaim to no one in particular, "That's lovely. That's awesome."

For a team in need of a boost on special teams, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

"Daniel Sepulveda may provide us with a legitimate option there," said Tomlin. "I like his hang time. He's worked a lot at it. He didn't have any exposure at that prior to getting here. But it fits what he is. He's always willing to do whatever for us."

Meanwhile, wide receiver Hines Ward and strong safety Troy Polamalu sat out practice in what Tomlin deemed a veteran's night off.

Safety Tuff Harris suffered an injury to his wrist during a special teams drill and was in a sling following practice.

Defensive lineman Sunny Harris suffered an ankle injury and left the stadium early.

As for the traditional backs-on-'backers drill, the only big hit came from – who else? – James Harrison, who crashed through fullback Dwayne Wright and drove him to the ground.

"Oh my God," exclaimed Tomlin. "Now that's a bull rush."

The offense did a little better in the drill in this one, as Isaac Redman again showed his chops, while rookie Jonathan Dwyer did a good job as well.

Dwyer went up against reigning rookie champion Thaddeus Gibson on the final four attempts in the drill. Gibson won the first one, with Dwyer winning the next two. Gibson finished things off by beating Dwyer into submission on the final attempt.

It was a full night for Dwyer, who received plenty of extra reps to make up for time lost to a hamstring injury early in practice.

In fact, Dwyer was so fatigued at one point in an 11-on-11 drill, running backs coach Kirby Wilson yelled for him to get off the field in a not-so-subtle way.

Dwyer ran to the sidelines, threw his helmet down and headed off under the stands, presumably to throw up.

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


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