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Steelers Training Camp 2009 - UPDATE

By SCM
August 04, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The visitors just keep coming. Yesterday at Steelers training camp, Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma came out to St. Vincent’s and spoke with Mike Tomlin and met the players bringing with him President David Morehouse, Assistant Coach Mike Yeo and other members of the organization. Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert had extended the invitation. Said Bylsma:

“It's a chance for us to come and not only be fans of them like they are of us but also to come and see things and learn something from them. I think it's an unbelievable thing not only for the Steelers, the Penguins but the city to have the City of Champions back, the experience we have watching them play. I think in terms of the Steelers everyone in the United States was either a Cowboys fan or a Steelers fan back in their heyday, and I was on the Steelers side I can honestly say. One of my best friends was a season-ticket holder in college so kind of through osmosis and the lean years in Detroit I was aware of what the Steelers were always doing so I would be wearing the black and gold. We're fans first and foremost, but I think the opportunity to come here and watch how they're doing things, how they approach training camp and even hopefully get a chance to chat about how they're dealing with a season after a championship and their mentality going into camp, something we would like to try and learn from. Each coach in each different sport brings something different to the table. It's different from what our approach is and to see how coach Tomlin and the Steelers do it. You kind of look for ways where it does translate over, getting your players the work level, the habit level they need to have to build that foundation and also the mentality and focus of the player and keeping that fresh after a championship season. I'm looking for those ways and hopefully I come up with some answers today.”

As far as practice goes on Wednesday, the Steelers were business as usual despite rain. Mike Tomlin on the environment and yesterday’s drills:

“We need to learn how to execute in all environments and circumstance so it provided us an opportunity to do that here this afternoon. We executed some two-minute football; it was a special situation today. Saw good things from both sides in regards to that. We wanted to work in a vertical field. I put 2:37 on the clock and put the ball minus-18 – that may sound familiar to some of you guys. I think those were the circumstances that we had in Florida a few months back. I wanted to incorporate the two-minute element into the drill. You know we have to acknowledge when we get a clock stoppage in those situations, work around that offensively and defensively. I just wanted to back up the vertical field and add that element to the drill, which we hadn’t done till this point.”

Dennis Dixon continues his growth and has his head coach’s eye.

“He did pretty well. Of course you saw him move the offense down the field. He was doing some good things, he has had some good days of course he has had some moments. It’s all part of the process. He’s growing like a lot of the other ones.”

The only players missing out yesterday because of injuries were rookie Frank Summers nursing a hamstring injury and James Harrison who has a stomach virus. Thus far through training camp, we’ve heard much about Mike Wallace, Frank Summers, Isaac Redman, Joe Burnett, and the top pick, Ziggy Hood. One name not mentioned that often is seventh round selection David Johnson. Trying to earn a spot on the team as a backup tight end will be no easy task. But, Johnson is opening some eyes.

Bruce Arians: “He's the first guy I've ever seen knock James Harrison an inch backward. Not a foot, but an inch, anyway. He's just so powerful when we put him up against linebackers. And against our defensive ends, he really stood out. You talk to those guys, they say, Man, this kid's got some punch. And he can run and catch. If he continues to come around, we might have found a jewel because that's the guy who can also play fullback.”

Looking ahead to the next pre-season game Saturday night in Washington, Bruce Arians says his offensive starters won’t see many snaps. Said Arians:

“We're shooting for 15 snaps. Roughly the first quarter.”

Final notes on yesterday’s practice:

  • The Steelers practiced the “no-huddle” offense on Wednesday. They also ran the formation the day before.
  • Mike Wallace’s display of speed continues with a long touchdown reception yesterday. Fellow rookie Keenan Lewis was on victim of the burner. Later in practice, Lewis stayed with Wallace putting a good hit on him forcing a drop.
  • Dennis Dixon hardly missed a pass attempt yesterday and one completion was a beauty over the middle to Martin Nance. ding a strike over the middle to Martin Nance.
So, no Michael Vick in the ‘Burgh, and Bruce Arians says with or without him there would not be any formations for the Steelers of the “Wildcat.” Arians reiterates his opposition to the Wildcat.

“I've seen what people are going to do to it. Once our defense saw it enough times, they devised something to stop it. Defenses are catching on real quick. Plus, I'm not taking a $100 million quarterback and playing him at wide receiver. Or on the bench. Unless the guy is a legit thrower, it's not as effective. he only team doing it is Miami with Ronnie Brown, and he's really good. Ronnie can throw a little. The people who made it successful were at Arkansas with Darren McFadden. McFadden could throw a little bit and they had a lot of success. But there were two or three teams that just shut them flat down. If they were in the NFL, these teams aren't stupid. They'll look at the teams that shut them down and copy the defense. Ronnie Brown is the only one successful enough. There's not a team in this league that can do it -- I take that back, six games from now, there will be one.”

If Arians has a change of heart Dennis Dixon wants to be the Wildcat in the offense.

“I'd love to do it. That's something I did in college. I'm used to it. You got to know when to do it and when not to do it because it takes a toll on your body if you don't use it correctly.”
 
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The revolving door of former Steelers and celebrities continued yesterday when ex-Steeler Sam Davis paid a visit to Latrobe. His impression of the current Steelers:

“It’s good to see what all you miss. We didn’t have it this good when I was here. We definitely didn’t have it this good. Our field was never this good. We always had it muddy out here. You can’t forget about those days. Without those days they wouldn’t be where they are now. The best part about those days was Chuck Noll. He changed it. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have gotten to where we are. He loved the game. He loved his players. He was an excellent coach, the best coach.”

All that buzz about Ben Roethlisberger’s arm can be laid to rest. Said Roethlisberger:

“You guys made such a big deal about my arm being sore, hopefully you will start writing that my arm's looking better. It feels good. Today, the red zone period, seven on seven, we completed every pass. I think we completed all but one in the team red zone, so it's really starting to come along. It just took about a week; that's kind of what we anticipated. Today, the red zone period, 7 on 7, we completed every pass. I think we completed all but one in the team red zone, so it's really starting to come along. It just took about a week; that's kind of what we anticipated. We need to improve as a total offense. We need to set our goals higher and be better because we can't just rely on our defense to win every game for us.”

Meanwhile, Mewelde Moore is working his way back into shape and getting back on the field. Moore:

“I feel really good, it's just a process. I don't have any control over how my body responds.”

Mike Tomlin on Moore:

“Mewelde Moore's marching his way back. He was able to participate in individual drills and we're just going to keep moving him forward. I like where he is. As you all see, just from practice, it's carrying over to game time. All he's doing is making plays. He was with Detroit two years ago, caught over 90 balls and had close to 1,000 yards. That speaks for itself. He knows what he's doing.”

Rookie Mike Wallace continues to impress showing fine route running skills yesterday. He NEEDS to make this team. Dennis Dixon also stood out yesterday. To wrap up yesterday’s drills I give you Mike Tomlin.

“We have one preseason game under our belts and we have three more to go. That’s one of the things I’m going to stress to these guys – just because we’re going to check out of training camp here at the end of this week, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop the team-building process. If anything, it’s going to become more significant as we get back into the real world and have to deal with some of the things that you don’t have to deal with at training camp. We still have to be a team on the rise, we still have to be a developing world championship caliber team, and those are some of the things we’re going to start stressing to those guys at the appropriate time. We got a little rain between sessions today. While it wasn’t bad, we want to be able to use the grass fields tomorrow. When we put the big men on the grass, they chew it up and then it would not be able to be used here the rest of the week. We just bit the bullet here this afternoon and worked on this field, which is an awesome field. I don’t try to evaluate those guys after an OTA session or a training camp or a first year or a first two years for that matter. Different people come at different stages of development. Everybody is praising Ziggy Hood because he’s behaving like a grown man, because he’s very mature, he works well. But he’s older than Rashard Mendenhall, so he should. Lawrence Timmons is in his third year, and he’s 23. We’re not too quick to evaluate where those guys are. I like the effort they’re giving us, their attention to detail for the most part, but the jury is still out on that group and probably will be. We’re not really focused on Washington just yet. The battle is man vs. himself right now. When you get into the third week of camp, particularly from a young guy’s standpoint, the water gets a little deep for them. We’re seeing a lot of young guy mistakes, and we have to get those guys back up to speed and find their groove, just to a point of where they’re getting comfortable and not having to open up their book every night. Maybe fatigue is a factor, and they have to be able to execute when fatigue sets in, mentally and physically.

“Nick Eason looks like he’s got a calf strain of some kind. We’re going to take a look at that and see his availability for tomorrow and so forth. Scott Paxson has an elbow injury of some kind, but he was able to finish. Mewelde Moore is marching his way back. He was able to participate in individual drills, and we’re just going to keep him moving forward. We like where he is. Sean McHugh did miss because of a little swelling in his knee, training camp knee if you will. As soon as that subsides, we’ll get him back out here.”
 
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