View Full Version : Newcomers Deliver Strong Showing

08-13-2006, 05:13 AM
Newcomers deliver strong showings

By Joe Starkey
Sunday, August 13, 2006

GLENDALE, Ariz. - It was a pretty good day for the Steelers' rookies.
Free safety Anthony Smith stole the show with two interceptions in a 21-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but some of his fellow draft picks had their moments, too.

Rookie receivers Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid combined to catch eight passes for 62 yards. Sixth-round pick Marvin Philip apparently held his own as the new backup center. Seventh-round pick Cedric Humes made the longest play of the day, a 33-yard reception in the fourth quarter (though he later fumbled near the goal line), and fifth-round pick Omar Jacobs completed 5-of-7 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Holmes, the team's first-round pick out of Ohio State, also returned the opening kickoff 25 yards.

"The speed of the game is a lot different than college," Holmes said. "At the same time, it's football. If you can get out there and play the way you know how, the game will come to you. ... I have a couple of things I need to adjust, but overall I had a pretty good day."

One play that didn't go well was a third-quarter pass from Shane Boyd that bounced off Holmes' hands and was intercepted by linebacker Gerald Hayes.

Did Holmes, who was running a slant, fail to look the ball into his hands?

"Both of the balls (that he missed) were high," Holmes said. "If it touched my hands, you know, I should have caught it, but a couple of passes were high and I didn't get a chance to grasp it like I should have."

At times, Holmes looked as if he was lobbying for the ball. He denied it.

"Not at all," he said. "I didn't complain one time where I was open, (but) we have proof where we can go back and watch it on the sideline and show what was open. At the same time, their defense had a lot of pressure on our quarterbacks, and they had to make the best read possible."

Coach Bill Cowher thought Boyd threw the ball too hard on the interception. Boyd essentially is a rookie, though he spent part of training camp last season with the Titans. He played more than any Steelers quarterback yesterday and completed 8-of-16 passes for 67 yards. He also was the team's leading rusher with 16 yards on four attempts.

"Every now and then he gets that one play where he's (standing) from me to you and thinks he's throwing an 18-yard comeback," Cowher said. "He's gotta to be able to take some off."

Smith, a third-round pick out of Syracuse, showed why the Steelers were so high on him. Both his interceptions came against Cardinals backup John Navarre, who quickly will become a third-stringer once rookie Matt Leinart signs.

The first was late in the second quarter, when Smith stepped in front of a fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo at the Cardinals' 45 and likely would have scored if Ayanbadejo hadn't tackled him by the shoestrings.

The second, in the third quarter, showed Smith's athleticism, as he leaped in front of LeRon McCoy on a deep throw at the Steelers' 44.

"Football everywhere is played the same," Smith said. "You just have to go out there, be tough, be physical and be confident in yourself."

Rookie free agents Anthony Madison (two special teams tackles) and Isaac Smolko (leaping 1-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone) also made plays.


08-13-2006, 05:43 AM
Steelers Notebook: Holmes, Reid earn good grades in their debuts
Sunday, August 13, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As they hoped back in April when they drafted them, two rookies led the Steelers' receivers in a 21-13 loss to Arizona yesterday.

Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid, the team's first-round and third-round draft picks, each caught four passes among the 19 receptions by the Steelers.

None went for big yardage, totaling 62 between them, but coach Bill Cowher gave them a good grade in their first test.

"I thought they did some good things. I think both those kids will get better and better. I was pleased from the sideline watching it. I think Santonio made some nice catches in the first half. I'm very pleased with it."

One third-down pass, a slant from Shane Boyd deep into Cardinals territory, slipped off the outstretched hands of Holmes and was intercepted by linebacker Gerald Hayes.

Cowher said it was a bad pass. Holmes said it was high, though he should have caught it.

"It was very exciting, getting an opportunity to step on this playing level, the NFL," Holmes said. "I have a couple things I need to adjust, but overall I feel I had a pretty good day."


Cape Cod Steel Head
08-13-2006, 06:09 AM
I agree with the article although I wasn't to impressed with Madison.

08-13-2006, 08:23 AM
I agree with the article although I wasn't to impressed with Madison.

Ditto, but the team as a whole has some work to do yet, so I'm not all that concerned at this point. If he doesn't step up his play and soon - he'll be going bye-bye.

08-13-2006, 08:24 AM
I think it looks like an above average rookie class.