Rejoice: Final Evening Practice Report

Dale Lolley gives the rundown of Wednesday's practice -- from Hines Ward's self-imposed punishment to the continuing saga of Maurkice Pouncey, the kickoff derby, the close battles along the defensive line, and more.

LATROBE – The Steelers finished off their final open practice of this training camp here at Saint Vincent College in lackluster fashion, having perhaps their most unenthusiastic session of the 2010 camp.

It wasn'tnot the final practice, as the Steelers will have one Thursday morning - in pads - before breaking camp.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has been sharp throughout the camp, looked pedestrian Wednesday. He missed badly on several passes – including his first two in a pass under pressure drill. Then, when he finally did hit a receiver in stride, they dropped more than they caught.

Hines Ward missed one deep opportunity in the open field and immediately dropped to his stomach and began doing push-ups. The crowd appreciated the maneuver and gave Ward a hand. Also, Antwaan Randle El missed an easy catch on a quick out.

Rookie Maurkice Pouncey continued to share snaps at center with Justin Hartwig and even got some extra help with his snaps with the QB under center following practice from Roethlisberger and linebacker James Harrison.

Having performed in Florida's spread offense, Pouncey didn't get a ton of snaps with the QB under center in college. But if he can effectively snap the ball with Harrison standing over him, he can do it with anyone.

Pouncey did have one bad snap with veteran Charlie Batch, who got a lot of work today - head coach Mike Tomlin said it was simply Batch's turn.

Batch's snaps came at the expense of Dennis Dixon, who didn't get a lot of work as Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich handled the first and second-team spots.

Batch did look sharp running the scout team in the red zone, tossing a perfect pass in the back corner of the end zone to Brandon London, then hitting running backs Justin Vincent and Isaac Redman for TDs as well.

After Daniel Sepulveda handled the kickoff duties at practice on Tuesday, it was Jeff Reed's turn today. Reed had kicks with a hang time of 3.61 seconds to the 1, 4.1 seconds to the 9, 3.85 seconds to the 4 and 3.77 seconds to the 7.

Sepulveda is clearly the better guy to handle the kickoffs and I would expect him to have that job when the Steelers line up for their regular season opener against Atlanta.

Redman got some more work at fullback today with the first unit, sharing time with Frank Summers, as the Steelers continue to attempt to find a way to utilize him.

He did, however, develop shin splits, but gutted things out and finished practice.

Rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer took part in position drills, but did not participate in any team drills as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury suffered in Saturday's preseason opener against Detroit.

The second-team defensive line continues to be Nick Eason, Chris Hoke and Ziggy Hood. I'm not sure what Eason brings to this team, other than somebody with some experience behind Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel.

I don't see this team keeping seven linemen - with some of the young guys they'll have to keep at other positions – so it will be interesting to see if Eason continues to hold down that spot or if Sunny Harris, who can also play the nose, or rookie Doug Worthington, who has looked good, can supplant him.

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


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