The second day of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers is now in the books and here is a recap of everything notable that happened throughout the day.
- The Steelers announced early in the day that they have agreed to a three-year deal with Legendary Entertainment, which just so happens to be run by one of their investors, Thomas Tull. The deal means the Steelers will run features on the scoreboard during games and the team will wear patches on their practice jerseys. That\’s about the long and short of it.
- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked to the media before and after practice and of course most of the questions were about his knee. The quarterback said it feels fine and the reports during practice suggested that was indeed true. It really should be a non issue moving forward unless he has some sort of setback. Roethlisberger also talked about being the leader of the offense this year and also let it be known that his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley is better than it was last year. “I\’m not just saying that,” Roethlisberger said. “Last year obviously had its growing pains; it is what it is. And it\’s more than just him and I. It was him and other coaches, him and other players, but obviously people are going to talk about the quarterback and the coordinator more.”
- Tight end Heath Miller was his usual vague self when asked about his knee. He said he still doesn\’t know when he will be ready and that the final decision as to when that will be will include several people making it. For now, Miller is just taking it day by day and said he\’s not focused really on the big picture. During Saturday\’s practice, Miller worked on the side with trainers.
- Cornerback Ike Taylor went through his usual praising of fellow cornerback Cortez Allen during lunch. In addition, Taylor had nothing but good things to say about rookie safety Shamarko Thomas. Taylor said the good thing about Thomas is that he wants to learn and he\’s learning from two of the best in Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Taylor went on to say that Thomas is asking all the right questions and he considers that a good thing.
- While second-year nose tackle Alameda Ta\’amu might not be ready to practice for a while as he continues to rehab his injured hamstring, he has reportedly lost 27 pounds over the course of the offseason, according to Jim Wexell. Apparently he is stronger, so it will be fun to see if that translates onto the field whenever he is allowed to start practicing.
- Wide receiver Plaxico Burress isn\’t worried one bit about the Steelers group of wide receivers and he praised each individually during his talk with the media on Saturday. Burress once again let everyone know how happy he is to be back in Pittsburgh and that he is really benefiting from having time to prepare this year as opposed to last year when he was signed late in the season.
- Running back Isaac Redman was the first team running back when the afternoon practice got underway and rookie Le\’Veon Bell was at the bottom of the depth chart as far as when he received reps. This was obviously an act by the Steelers coaching staff to send some sort of message to Bell, but Tomlin wasn\’t asked specifically about the running back rotation after practice ended. Receiving reps after Redman were Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, Curtis McNeal, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Will Johnson. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did note that Bell rotated in with the first team offense along with Redman, Dwyer, Batch and Stephens-Howling. In short, it is way too early to get worked up about the rotation. This will play itself out over the course of the next few weeks and we will log the participation of each when the preseason gets underway. It\’s fun to talk about, but after all, it\’s only the first practice.
- The Steelers starting five on the offensive line is exactly what it was during the offseason practices so there is nothing new to report there. Marcus Gilbert is fine after he reportedly suffering body cramps on Friday after the conditioning run that resulted in him being carted off. As far as the second-team offensive line, it as appears as though Kelvin Beachum got work at left tackle, left guard and at center. John Malecki worked some at center and left guard while Justin Cheadle and Guy Whimper were the right guard and right tackle respectively. Joe Long also received some snaps at left tackle according to a few reports. As far as undrafted free agents Nik Embernate and Mike Golic Jr., they helped out in blocking drills mostly. Golic, according to Kaboly, stayed after practice to do some center work. There are a lot of center-capable players on this team, but I just don\’t see how it\’s possible to get all of them snaps over the ball during preseason games. We will have to just watch the pecking order.
- The wide receivers apparently had a good day in regard to beating cornerbacks deep during practice. Emmanuel Sanders beat William Gay deep and even Cortez Allen was beat deep by both Sanders and Antonio Brown, which prompted Tomlin to yell, “Hey Cortez, they ain\’t throwin at Ike baby.”
- Speaking of Taylor, he still has hands of stone as Will Graves of the Associated Press reported that a ball deflected off Taylor\’s hands but was fortunately picked off by safety Ryan Clark. Hey, at least it was a turnover, right?
- While the play-by-play is indeed fun to read live on Twitter, it\’s way too early to be heading towards the bridges because the secondary was burned deep. The Steelers defense is usually pretty solid when it comes to not giving up the deep ball, so color me unconcerned about the Saturday action right now. I think I\’m more excited about hearing that the offense is going deep.
- The Steelers practice was interrupted for less than an hour by a thunderstorm that rolled through the area, but the team changed shoes and resumed practice after warming up again. While it may have caused a disruption, sometimes it is good to go though things like that, as it teaches the team to expect the unexpected and how to adjust on the fly.
- After practice, Tomlin announced that there were no new bumps and bruises and hopefully he can repeat that statement several more times over the course of the next few weeks. Tomlin was asked about defensive end Al Woods continuing to get reps as the second-team nose tackle and he wrote it off as it just being another player fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster. Tomlin said the players looked good during practice, but also reminded the media that they are still playing football in shorts.
- Rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton appears to be catching up fast and he reportedly had a good first day of practice that included him receiving praise during the day from not only his position coach Richard Mann, but Tomlin as well. It is hard to not get excited about this kid, especially when you see how humble he is. Hopefully that never changes and hopefully these good practice reports continue to roll in as well.
- As far as punt returning opportunities went during drills, Brown, Sanders, Wheaton, Justin Brown and Terry Hawthorne all took turns as expected.
The Steelers will back at it again on Sunday and hopefully the weather is better than it was on Saturday.