It was fun for everyone
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
By BOB LABRIOLA
LATROBE, Pa. ? Jerome Bettis said it was the most fun he ever has had at a first day of practice. Based on the reactions throughout by the 6,100 fans who were watching, there were a lot of people who agreed.
For the first time since Jan. 23, the Steelers assembled on a football field wearing helmets and shoulder pads, and to commemorate the occasion, they got after it.
So far in this 2005 training camp, the players reported on Sunday, did the run-test on Monday and then their first two practices were on Tuesday. The morning session resembled the ones during minicamp, but the afternoon session resembled a regular season game.
It started with individual drills, built up some momentum during seven-on-seven and then came to a crescendo during 11-on-11.
As Bettis said, it was fun.
"Hopefully, he?ll still be having fun by the end of the week," said Coach Bill Cowher. "We?ll see. It was good. It?s a situation that we talked about, that we have to be able to push each other, compete against each other and come close to that line but not cross it. There was a lot of pride on the field, and it was the first time we?ve had the pads on since the New England game. It was a good start."
The first snap of 11-on-11 was a short pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Cedrick Wilson, and this otherwise insignificant play became an immediate teaching tool as to how the Steelers practice. With the 49ers, Wilson?s former team, a pass play in practice apparently ended when the receiver caught the ball. Wilson made the catch and visibly relaxed, and that brought a loud one-word rebuke from Cowher _ "Finish!"
On the next snap, Bettis made a series of quick moves in traffic to get himself into the open field, and the fans erupted. The next play was a slant pass to Wilson, who caught the ball and took a few steps up the field only to be drilled by safety Chris Hope. The crowd erupted again.
The sequence continued, offense and defense going at each other, neither unit backing down.
Sean Morey made a diving catch along the sideline; Brett Keisel drilled Noah Herron on a running play; Alonzo Jackson sacked Tommy Maddox; and then Wilson got his revenge.
After making a sweet move to get past the cornerback, Wilson went racing down the sideline under a Roethlisberger pass that was a bit underthrown. With Hope coming hard to break up the play, Wilson bent his body backward and made an over-the-shoulder catch in traffic for what would?ve been about a 40-yard gain. The crowd went crazy, and Wilson jumped up and spiked the ball.
There was more. Duce Staley broke through the line and lowered his shoulder to run over any defender who got in his way. Bettis took a handoff and made one of his patented outside-in moves and left rookie linebacker Rian Wallace grasping at air, but then the defense got the final word, so to speak.
A Brian St. Pierre pass intended for rookie receiver Nate Washington was intercepted by Chidi Iwuoma and run back for an imaginary touchdown.
"It was Cedrick?s first time with our team, and I don?t know what practices were like where he was, but we have some guys who like to talk," said Cowher. "By the end, he wasn?t slighted either, he was doing his fair share of talking as well. It?s fine, but the biggest thing is to stay focused. It?s one thing to talk and compete and all those things, but you have to stay focused on the field. It?s a good test for them. We?ll see if this talking continues by the end of the week."
Rest of the article: http://secure2.steelers.com/article/55229/
Sounds like today was a great day to be up there. I am glad the Mays and McFadden hamstrings weren't serious. I can't wait to get up to camp. It should be a blast!