Sunday was day 4 of Steelers training camp and once again the news got off to an early start as the Plaxico Burress watch is now over after he agreed to terms on a one year deal with the Jets for a little over $3 million. Perhaps the trip to Pittsburgh was just a ploy to drive his price tag up, but I am willing to bet the Steelers were not in the ballpark money wise. Whatever the reason was, it doesn\’t matter at this point.
The next bit of news we got right before practice started is that the Steelers had agreed to terms with cornerback William Gay on a one-year deal. No terms were announce, but it is obvious that the Steelers choose to go with their guys that know the system to start the season due to the lockout causing their rookies to miss OTA sessions and mini-camps. One would think that Gay is now pretty much a lock to make the roster right now as either the nickel corner or the 4th corner on the depth chart. He can also chip in on special teams in addition. The Steelers look to field a veteran team to start the season and hope to have an advantage over teams with new coaching staffs, systems and players. Gay is far from an All-Pro, but he knows the system and can keep the seat warm until Crezdon Butler or Curtis Brown is ready.
A few other tidbits before we get to the practice report. The agent for Dennis Dixon says his client really wants out of Pittsburgh as he would like the chance to compete for a starting job elsewhere. He said he hopes the Steelers will consider trading Dixon, but did not rule out Dixon signing his tender if the free agent market dictates that there is no interest in him. So far there is not and with teams already in camp, it would take an injury for them to consider Dixon I believe. The Steelers might just hold him through camp if he signs his tender, to see if indeed that happens and they can squeeze a 5th round pick or so out of another team for him. If Dixon was not in the doghouse before, he is now!
Free agent tight end Daniel Graham visited the Steelers on Saturday and came to terms with the Titans today. I still suspect the Steelers will consider bringing in another veteran tight end for a look over the next few days.
As far as injured players today, Keenan Lewis sat out with a heat related illness. Both Marcus Gilbert and Limas Sweed had hamstrings and Emmanuel Sanders rested his foot. CButler left practice with quad tightness. Hines Ward, Chris Kemoeatu and Eugene Bright all remain on the Active PUP list. All of the players that have been re-signed recently still can\’t practice until next Thursday. Those players are: Ike Taylor, Willie Colon, Jonathan Scott, Shaun Suisham, Doug Legursky, Tony Hills, Ryan Mundy, William Gay and Daniel Sepulveda.
Before you read the rest, I have a full interview with Nick Richetta who gives you the full rundown of the Sunday practice. It is a great practice report and I appreciate Nick for calling in and keeping notes. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @SteelCityKid117 and he will be calling in again on Tuesday. DO NOT MISS HIS REPORT.
Ben Roethlisberger was wearing the #78 jersey today of Max Starks in an attempt to lobby for his return one would think.
On to the practice report where Baron Batch caught everyone’s attention in the backs on backer drill and his ability to make smooth cuts with the ball in his hands. The practice was in pads and shorts for the first time and reportedly was 5-3 and three against the linebackers. He was 2-1 versus Jason Worilds and got 1-0 versus James Harrison. It was noted as a huge collision with Harrison and Bruce Arians put his arm around Batch in celebration according to Ken Laird. Tomlin was heard saying, “I like that Batch” and told Worilds, “take that with you Jason” after Batch got the better of him.
John Clay finished 3-5 in the drill according to Mike Prisuta and it included losing three consecutive reps against Stevenson Sylvester to close the drill. Jonathan Dwyer did not look impressive as expected; while Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman looked fine in limited reps. Linebacker Mario Harvey showed he is willing to run through a wall if asked and Chris Carter was using his speed to beat backs to the edge a few times.
The starting offensive line was the same as it has been the first few days of camp and it was reported that Ryan Clark blew up Chris Scott on a running play. Trevis Turner was the second team right tackle while Joshua Harrison was on the left side. Dorian Brooks was the second team center with Legursky unable to practice.
Roethlisberger was 5-8 for 55 yards with a TD pass to Heath Miller in the two minute drill that included a 15-yard scramble. An obvious drop by Antonio Brown was ruled a completion by Tomlin on the drive and Brown had another drop as well according to reports. Mike Wallace was catching everything today. The second team stalled and it included several drops by the receivers.
Tyler Grisham had a good day according to reports as did Wes Lyons. Batch showed his cutting ability several times and is quickly picking up things.
Anthony Gray was getting some penetration in the 11 on 11 on the defensive side of the ball and Worilds worked at the right outside spot. Both Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu appear to be healthy and not limited. Bryant McFadden also looks healthy and had a great practice. Carter was getting quite a bit of instruction today from Keith Butler and Cameron Heyward was getting quite a bit of coaching from John Mitchell.
Brown and Redman were the deep men on kickoff practice.
The big story of the day was Batch and Tomlin down played his good effort in his short post practice press conference. Following practice it was announced that the Steelers had come to terms with Mewelde Moore. Not surprising as Batch looks to be the only true 3rd down type back on the roster. Moore will not be able to practice until Thursday because of the new labor rules. I think the Steelers are at 91 players with Moore so I expect a punter to be released soon.
Check back later for more updates.