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Ohio Steeler 05-16-2006 10:44 PM

Holmes flashes speed
By Joe Bendel
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In the Oscar-winning movie "Forrest Gump," the title character took off in a full sprint each time he heard the words, "Run, Forrest, run."

During the Steelers' three-day minicamp on the South Side, Santonio Holmes appeared to follow a similar directive from the coaching staff.

"Run, Santonio, run."

The speedy first-round pick from Ohio State flashed several glimpses of his 4.38-second speed by zipping through the Steelers' secondary and snatching deep balls, including a beauty of a 45-yarder from quarterback Charlie Batch on Monday, the final day of minicamp.

"He got behind guys four times clean during this camp," wide receivers coach Bruce Arians said. "He got a couple of PIs (pass interference calls against the defense), and he caught one today. The speed part of it, no doubt, he can go deep. He has excellent hands; he's fearless over the middle -- from what we've seen here without pads.

"He's in the process of learning how to run his patterns, so he's not as fast as he will be. When he understood things, he played fast. He has great hands. He can play inside or outside. He's everything we'd hoped he could be."

Now comes the difficult part for Holmes and the coaching staff. He is not permitted to participate in the team's 14 voluntary workouts, which start Wednesday and run through June 8, because of an NFL rule that prohibits rookies from working out with their teams if their semester of college is not complete.

That leaves Holmes, whom the Steelers drafted after trading up seven spots, with the responsibility of working out on his own and studying his plays. He won't be working with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and he won't be around while offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt installs more plays over the next three-plus weeks.

Recent Steelers history suggests it is difficult for a first-round wideout to make a major impact, regardless of the circumstances. Plaxico Burress had only 22 catches in 2000. Holmes believes, however, his three days in Pittsburgh will carry him through the next month.

"My starting point is pretty good," he said. "I'm just going to take it day by day. I'll hear from the coaches with the things they've installed and be ready to go when I come back."

The plan is for Holmes to return to town in late June, review video with Arians from the voluntary sessions and get him up to speed. Arians also will be available by telephone over the next month to field any questions Holmes might have while going through his notebook of plays.

"I don't anticipate any problems," said Holmes, who averaged 18.4 yards on 53 catches with 11 touchdowns as an Ohio State junior last season. "I've been playing football for 14 years, so the mental part won't be a problem."

The physical part doesn't seem to be a problem, but Holmes conceded that he must improve his technique if he wants to compete at a high level in the NFL. That said, he opened the eyes of several teammates.

"What stood out about him was his ability to catch the ball -- and the confidence the coaches had in him in sending him on some of those deep routes," veteran cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "It says a lot about his talent. He was really good, and he'll get better the more reps he gets. But right now, he doesn't have that many things to work on, and that's a good thing for us."

On the first day of minicamp, Holmes ran by Ike Taylor on a post pattern, forcing the talented cornerback to grab his jersey to slow him down. Taylor liked what he saw in the mobile Holmes.

"He's still raw, still learning everything," Taylor said. "He's quiet when he gets on the field; it's all business. And he has that deceptive speed. He's more of a strider, but he has that burst to him. He can push that button and take off. And he's real smooth. The young dude still has a lot to learn, but you can see he's a really good player."

Time will tell where Holmes fits into the Steelers' plans. Veteran wide receivers Hines Ward and Cedrick Wilson are penciled in as starters. Meanwhile, 2005 free agent Nate Washington, who looked solid at minicamp, Quincy Morgan, still recovering from a broken bone in his leg, and rookie third-round pick Willie Reid, a highly regarded punt returner, will be part of the equation.

"This was a good experience, being around so many good players and getting to learn about this franchise and the pro game," Holmes said. "I just need to keep working, keep making myself better."

And, above all else, keep running.

Suitanim 05-17-2006 08:58 AM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
This is very, very, VERY encouraging. I LOVE the fact that he lets his game do the talking instead of his yapper, unlike some other WR's in the AFC North.

Ohio Steeler 05-17-2006 09:00 AM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
I know what you are saying and how about that speed (4.38-second speed) man this kid can fly...

Suitanim 05-17-2006 09:18 AM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
2 stopwatches at the combine had him at 4.29.

Haiku_Dirtt 05-17-2006 01:13 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
"He's fearless over the middle..." :cool: You can be the fastest. You can have the best hands. But it won't mean squat if you're a deer in the headlights.

Voil?. Perhaps just like that Cedric Wilson is battling for No. 3.

I'm with you Suit. I am very very very stoked on Holmes.

83-Steelers-43 05-17-2006 03:23 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
Very good to hear. I think Wilson will be looking over his shouder in training camp this year. If he shows up and runs his mouth like he did for the majority of the regular season last year, Holmes will be our #2 for sure. Hell, I still think Morgan is capable of taking over Wilson's spot.

Black@Gold Forever32 05-17-2006 04:50 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
Santonio Holmes was the guy I wanted the Steelers to draft the most in this draft. I'm so glad we traded up to get him.

DIESELMAN 05-17-2006 06:39 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
Hes only going to get faster as he learns the playbook.....

clevestinks 05-17-2006 06:40 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed

Originally Posted by Suitanim
This is very, very, VERY encouraging. I LOVE the fact that he lets his game do the talking instead of his yapper, unlike some other WR's in the AFC North.

I agree, dams th O is changing speed a Wr, speed at rb

tony hipchest 05-17-2006 06:42 PM

Re: Holmes flashes speed
speed kills.

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