Steelers Notebook: A competitive, loud start to drills
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Linebacker Joey Porter promised a show and he and his teammates put one on for the estimated 6,100 fans who turned out for the Steelers' first practice in pads yesterday afternoon at St. Vincent College.
Porter did much of the trash talking and his teammates backed it up.
Safety Chris Hope's booming hit on new receiver Cedrick Wilson on the third play of drills seemed to release all the pent-up emotions from the day and maybe even those that lingered since the Steelers' loss at home in the AFC championship game in January.
Two plays later, defensive end Brett Keisel crushed rookie running back Noah Herron behind the line of scrimmage.
That didn't stop Jerome Bettis from strutting and shaking his head to loud cheers from the crowd after a run up the middle, nor Wilson from spiking the ball after a deep catch over Hope and cornerback Ricardo Colclough.
Bettis could not remember a better opening practice in pads in his 13 NFL seasons.
"If that's an indication of camp," Bettis said, "it's going to be a tough camp, but it's going to be a great camp because guys are going to be ready to play."
After Wilson pushed Colclough to make the deep catch, Porter ran over and playfully mocked him, turned to reporters and told them to get their cell phones out and call Hines Ward.
"I just threw a little stuff out there to get him going," said Porter, who reveled in the competition between the offense and defense.
"They were jawing in warm-ups and we started jawing. Somebody has to do something. We started the tempo when Hope hit him coming across the middle. It just fed off that, like a snowball effect."
Coach Bill Cowher even had to remind the defense that tackling running backs was not permitted, but he obviously felt good about the day's work and the emotion that was involved.
"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 Steelers will have two practices for the second day in a row (the one at 3 p.m. is open to fans). It's the first time Cowher has scheduled a two-a-day on consecutive days.
"We've pretty much had the same system since I've been here, and it's worked pretty well. We're only up here for three-and-a-half weeks. It's a very short period of time, and that's why these guys came in and were in shape.
"Now we have to get quality work when we're out here, pushing each other, competing with each other and making sure we get something done with a sense of purpose every time we come out on this field. We're not going to beat them up. We're not going to leave everything up here in Latrobe, but we're going to push them."
The Steelers will practice twice a day seven times during camp, which ends Aug. 24.
Rest of the article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05215/547737.stm