Practice Report, Aug. 9

Here's Jim Wexell's breakdown of Monday's practice as the week of the first preseason game is upon us:

Well, let's kick it off with an injury update: OT Tony Hills sustained a right ankle sprain during a one-on-one pass-rush drill with DE Doug Worthington. Also in practice Monday, NT Steve McLendon sprained an MCL. … Coach Mike Tomlin rested Byron Leftwich to begin a rotation of rest for his three older quarterbacks. … James Harrison missed his second consecutive practice with "some discomfort in the shoulder and it appears to be minor," according to Tomlin.

In the quotable department, here's what Tomlin had to say when asked about the development of second-year cornerback, Keenan Lewis:

"Similar to Ziggy [Hood]," Tomlin said. "He's comfortable. He knows what he's doing. You can tell that in terms of how he's verbalizing assignments, communicating with others pre-snap, but more importantly he's finishing plays and being competitive. I'm looking forward to watching him and others when we step into the stadium against Detroit this weekend."

And these are your bullet-point notes from the afternoon workout:

* In the 9-on-7 run scrimmage, Lawrence Timmons took a few snaps at ROLB. He took on the blocker at the point, brushed him off, made the tackle on the run up the middle for a four-yard gain. Nothing overwhelming, but he looks stout enough to be able to play there in case of an injury to a starter.

* Sly Stevenson met David Johnson in the hole for a terrific collision, and Sly didn't budge. He looks pretty stout himself, because Johnson can hit you.

* Ramon Foster stonewalled Doug Worthington on the right side of the line and Jonathan Dwyer was off for a big gain.

* With all due respect to my friend and colleague Mike Prisuta, Dwyer is a lock to make this team. The coaches are miffed at him and aren't in the mood to throw bouquets about him to the media, but Dwyer has to be a lock.

* Along those lines, it was made clear to me that Isaac Redman – while special-teams incapable – is beloved by Bruce Arians.

* During special-teams drills, I watched Will Allen closely and realize why he's valued for his special-teams skills. As both a gunner and the player who blocks the gunner, Allen had much success. He's smooth and the coaches like to use him as an example.

* Word going around is that Ben Roethlisberger has a sore arm. Today he wore a rubber sleeve on his right elbow but his arm didn't look any weaker. In fact, he led Mike Wallace too far across the middle and deep on a post. Wallace had Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu by a step. The crowd grumbled when Wallace didn't dive for the ball.

* Roethlisberger, No. 1 QB, saw Wallace open on another play, and looked like he was going to throw, but with Ryan Clark lurking Roethlisberger tucked it and ran 10 yards for the first down during the session on third downs.

* Hines Ward went way up over Joe Burnett to reel in a Roethlisberger pass. Cagey vet still getting separation with his smarts.

* Dennis Dixon threw a lot of dinks, dunks and sideways passes to tight ends for minimal gains. Dixon also rolled right to hit a diving Antonio Brown while on the run. His next pass was a near-pick that went through Clark's hands. Dixon's definitely cooled off the last few days, but his size and athleticism are obvious and will bode him well down the line.

* Brett Keisel mummified Dwyer on a draw/cutback up the middle.

* Dixon threw behind Matt Spaeth, giving Spaeth a chance to twist his hips and reach out to make the Catch of the Day.

* Charlie Batch hit Brown on a curl, but Anthony Madison rocked Brown so hard he forced him to fumble. (Some called it an incompletion. So did the ref who let Jerramy Stevens's fumble stand in Super Bowl XL).

* Maurkice Pouncey played a lot of center against Chris Hoke, the ideal player against whom the rookie should be working. Pouncey had some success – some –but nothing came easy against Hoke.

* Keenan Lewis, having an otherwise fine camp, was chewed out by his position coach for not lining up over the lone WR Emmanuel Sanders. "Keenan! You're the only corner in the game!" Lewis recovered just in time.


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