The Pittsburgh Steelers have wrapped up their Tuesday practice now in preparation for their Thursday night preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles and here is a recap based on media and fan reports that were in attendance today.
Early in the day Mike Tomlin ruled out both Willie Colon (ankle) and Cameron Heyward (back?) for the Thursday night game during his press conference. Rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams will both start and Ramon Foster will start at left guard with Colon sidelined. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) worked on Tuesday and is expected to play one or two series against the Eagles. With Heyward out, it is now believed that Al Woods will get playing time at right defensive end after Brett Keisel is done for the night. LaMarr Woodley (groin?) worked again on Tuesday, but it is still unclear if he will play Thursday night. It is also probably safe to say that Jeremy Kapinos (back) will sit out as well as he continues to be sidelined with a back issue. Keenan Lewis (shoulder) might have very well reinjured his shoulder during the Tuesday session, so he might be down Thursday night as well.
General Manager Kevin Colbert stated once again on Tuesday that Rashard Mendenhall is almost guaranteed to start the season on the PUP list. This should not be surprising at all. Also, according to Tomlin, no long-term decision has been made yet on Casey Hampton, who continues to rehab on the camp PUP list. As far as the rumors of the Steelers having their sights on signing Plaxico Burress, Colbert in a round about way nipped that in the bud on Tuesday as well. I said last Sunday I didn\'t see it happening myself.
The Tuesday practice included quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Jerrod Johnson, both of whom are expected to see the most playing time Thursday night, running the two-minute drill. Mike Prisuta reported that Johnson was 6 of 10 for 54 yards passing and had a 4-yard scramble during the session. Great catches were made by both Tyler Beiler and Toney Clemons on the drive with Clemons getting a score against fellow seventh round pick Terrence Frederick. On the Leftwich drive, he looked sharp according to reports, but drops by Marquis Maze and Jimmy Young killed the drive. Both Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown reportedly had pass breakups against Leftwich.
In the 7-on-7 portion, Roethlisberger reportedly threw well and both Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown had some nice grabs. Roethlisberger reportedly started the drive by going 5 for 5, but his final pass was broken up by rookie linebacker Sean Spence.
During the special teams portion of practice, Drew Butler reportedly had a few booming punts, but also had a shank in addition. It sounds like his inconsistency continues, but he figures to be the lone punter Thursday night with Kapinos sidelined. Back fielding punts Tuesday were Sanders, Brown, Chris Rainey and Maze. Rainey reportedly had one doink off of his facemask though. Rainey, Maze and David Gilreath all figure to get looks Thursday night against the Eagles as return men.
You can listen to my post practice interview with Tim Benz on the special training camp edition of the podcast. Also make sure to check out the regular Tuesday episode with co-host David Todd as well.