The first Sunday training camp practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers featured perhaps the best weather since the team arrived to Latrobe. The team reportedly worked on the field turf today due to the grass fields being too wet from all of the late evening rain the area has had. Working on the field turf all day prompted head coach Mike Tomlin to rest wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has had foot and knee problems since the end of his rookie season. Tomlin said after practice that holding out Sanders was merely precautionary.
Back working today were rookies Alameda Ta\’amu (foot) and linebacker Sean Spence (shoulder). The sore foot that Ta\’amu was suffering from was a result of the veterans having him walk an estimated three miles to the local Wal-Mart his first night in camp. They apparently told him it was only about a mile trip. Consider his hazing out of the way. Twitter reports indicate that Ta\’amu did have a good practice running with the second team behind Steve McLendon and he reportedly stood his ground against backup center Doug Legursky in the process.
The practice featured the linebackers versus tight end drills and Bob Labriola reported that linebackers Chris Carter and rookie Adrian Robinson performed well in it, as did veteran LaMarr Woodley, who dominated fullback David Johnson three straight times. Jamie McCoy also received praise from the media and even got some first team looks on offense for his hard work. Weslye Saunders, who has reportedly improved his route running and strength, was noted as the best tight end in the drill, while Leonard Pope was noted as being just average.
Not much has changed as far as rotations on the offense line, but Kelvin Beachum, who got into a little spat with Cameron Heyward, ran as the second team left guard while Trai Essex, the first team left tackle, flipped over to the right side with the second team. Both Essex and rookie right guard David DeCastro rolled their ankles during the afternoon, but neither are expected to miss much, if any time. Beachum was also noted for owning undrafted free agent Ikponmwosa Igbinosun in drills. Rookie Mike Adams reportedly fared well against Heyward at one point during his reps. Ramon Foster even received some reps at right tackle on Sunday.
Running back Isaac Redman was noted as taking a very visible leadership role with the running backs as he got on rookie Chris Rainey once for going through the motions. Rainey was once again noted as being sharp and crisp out in space and possessed good hands out of the backfield in drills. Jonathan Dwyer continues to be the second back in behind Redman, who apparently had to leave the field for a short time after getting his bell rung. This appears to be the best start of camp that Dwyer has had since being drafted by the Steelers. The rotation was mixed up at times though and that means John Clay, Baron Batch and Rainey all received plenty of reps as well.
Starting cornerback Keenan Lewis suffered a sprained AC joint in one of his shoulders during a collision on the sideline, so that means second year cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown can expect increased reps until Lewis is healthy. It is unclear how long Lewis will be sidelined for, but you can bet he will miss more than a few practices. By all reports so far, all four of the top corners are having good camps, but the preseason games will tell us what we need to know, as the tape does not lie.
With Sanders given the day off, and Mike Wallace still not in camp, it gave Derrick Williams a chance to run as the third wide receiver with Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery. Williams figures to be battling rookie Toney Clemons for the fifth and final wide receiver spot, so don\’t write off Williams just yet. This is where special teams will play an important part in this battle. Rookie Marquis Maze was reported as making a few nice grabs today as did Jimmy Young, whose day culminated by catching a long bomb from Byron Leftwich against Ike Taylor to close out practice. Maze continues to show quickness, strong elevation and an ability to catch the ball with his hands and away from his body. Maze also fielded some punts by Drew Butler along with Rainey.
The PUP list remains the same, but it appears that safety Damon Cromartie-Smith will be allowed to return to practice come Wednesday. Not practicing again today were tight end Heath Miller (ankle) and Jeremy Kapinos (back). For the most part, it appears the Steelers are a healthy team right now outside of the injury suffered by Lewis on Sunday.
The team will be off on Monday and will resume practices on Tuesday.