Training camp injuries, updates 8/10
Two defensive starters failed to complete the afternoon workout yesterday at St. Vincent College. Cornerback Deshea Townsend (aggravated right Achilles tendon) and outside linebacker Joey Porter (hyperextended knee) spent the majority of the practice icing their injuries on the sideline. Ike Taylor took over for Townsend, and James Harrison came in for Porter. Porter left the field at the conclusion of a backs vs. 'backers drill. After tackle Ulish Booker stopped him on a pass-rush attempt, Porter went at it against Booker two more times, blowing by him on each occasion. Porter celebrated but quickly left the field and sat on a water cooler. He received treatment and did not return. Coach Bill Cowher said Porter's injury was not serious and that he and Townsend would be "day to day," regarding their returns.
Bill Cowher was asked about the depth of the offensive line. "It's hard to say at this point," he said. "We'll see how a lot of this is transferred into games. Chris Kemoeatu has had a good camp, as has Trai Essex. Barrett (Brooks) has a lot of experience. Chukky Okobi has been fine. Jim Jones we felt good about last year, and that's why he's on the roster. There are still some young guys. Ben Claxton is another kid that's kind of stood out here in the first part of camp again."
The Steelers will practice twice today, at 9 a.m. and at 7 p.m. at Latrobe High School. It is the first workout under the lights this training camp.
Rookie cornerback Bryant McFadden, a second-round pick, acknowledged that he's enduring growing pains in his first training camp. He's also noticed that the quarterbacks are throwing in his direction often. "They see me, and they (call the play) to go my way," McFadden said. "It's a challenge. They're coming at me. I imagine that's the norm, when you see a new guy out there, you want to go after him. When you're a freshman in college, and they see you out there, they try to do the same thing."
Cowher was not exactly impressed with yesterday's workout, which lacked crispness like previous practices this camp. "There was some good hitting taking place, but there was some inconsistent play out there. There were some lulls there that we've got to get rectified. You've got to pull through it. This is, right now, the dog days of camp. Everyone's a little bit nicked and bruised. You're out here everyday and there's no game in sight. So, these are the times that we have to fight through right now."
Inside the lines
FAN APPRECIATION DAY: The applause came down from the hillsides surrounding the Steelers' practice fields at St. Vincent College, beginning with Tuesday afternoon's latest installment of "Backs on 'Backers." It continued when K Jeff Reed finished a field-goal drill with a 48-yard effort. And it concluded with a thunderous show of appreciation for WR Fred Gibson (No. 4, Georgia), who made a practice-ending TD reception in a two-minute drill.
HIGHS & LOWS: LB James Harrison overwhelmed RBs Willie Parker and Chad Scott in the "Backs on 'Backers" blitz-pickup exercise. LB Clark Haggans bull-rushed his way over TE Heath Miller (No. 1, Virginia). FB Dan Kreider flattened LB Arnold Harrison, and LB Alonzo Jackson abused RB Jerome Bettis. LBs James Farrior and Joey Porter were also impressive in the drill.
FINISH THE PLAY: WR Sean Morey made a nice catch in 11-on-11 work but fumbled following the reception. CB Bryant McFadden (No. 2, Florida State) made an athletic break on the ball in pass coverage but dropped an interception.
TWICE THE FUN: RB Noah Herron (No. 7b, Northwestern) and S Russell Stuvaints smacked into each other not once, but twice following a pass reception by Herron, much to the crowd's delight.
UNACCEPTABLE: The defense earned criticism from Bill Cower after allowing big gainers to Bettis, RB Verron Haynes and Herron on consecutive snaps in nine-on-seven work. The run of long runs was put to an end when DE Shaun Nua (No. 7a, BYU) blasted into Bettis in the backfield. "That's the way to come off the ball," Cowher beamed. "That's football. I like it."
GETTING PHYSICAL: Porter was chastised for tackling Herron, a no-no on most occasions in practice. McFadden jolted WR Zamir Cobb with a hands-to-the-face blow.
BIG PLAY: Miller got behind LB Rian Wallace (No. 5, Temple) and caught a long pass from QB Tommy Maddox.
TWO-FOR-TWO: QB Charlie Batch led a successful field-goal drive and QB Brian St. Pierre directed a drive that produced a touchdown in two-minute work.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I've got suntan lotion in my eyes." -- Cowher, cutting short his daily post-practice media session.
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