Notebook: Trash talk makes for lively day
By Joe Bendel
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
The first two practices Tuesday featured a lot of trash talk on both sides of the ball. It was all in fun, but it made for a lively day, one filled with some circus catches (WR Cedrick Wilson ) and big hits (DE Brett Keisel ). RB Jerome Bettis said it was the most fun he's had at camp in his 10 years as a Steelers player. "Hopefully, he'll still have fun by the end of the week," coach Bill Cowher said. "We'll see. But it was good. We have to be able to compete against each other and come close to the line, but not cross it. There's a lot of pride on the field, and that's probably the first time we've had pads on the field since the New England game (AFC Championship). It was a good start."
The Steelers typically refrain from holding two-a-day practices on consecutive days, but Cowher is making an exception today. "After (today), we'll never go two in a row. We're only up here for 3 1/2 weeks, that's a short period of time. A lot of these guys, when they came in, they came in shape. Now, the thing that we have to do is get in quality work when we're out here. Pushing each other, competing with each other and that's the purpose every time we come onto the field."
There were only some minor injuries to report from yesterday's sessions. WR Lee Mays and rookie CB Bryant McFadden "tweaked" their hamstrings, according to Cowher .
The Hines Ward holdout reached its third day yesterday. The star WR turned down an offer to extend his contract by the Steelers, and now he must chart his next move. The Steelers have broken off negotiations until he reports. Bettis' reaction to the situation: "The other receivers have to pull their weight, but, ultimately, we're going to need (Ward) back. I don't think we can go through a season and expect not to have him here."
Wilson spoke to Ward last Saturday, the day before players were required to report. He had hoped to see his teammate in Latrobe, but Ward advised him of his plans. Consequently, Wilson is holding down Ward's No. 1 spot at flanker for the time being. "Hines not being here doesn't take away or add anything to my ability," Wilson said. "My job is to come out here and catch footballs - punts, kickoffs - that's my job. But we'd like to have him here, and we need him here. I came here to win a Super Bowl, and Hines is a get who can help make that happen."
Wilson said Ward is considered a warrior among the fraternity of wide receivers in the NFL. "When you ask any of us who the toughest receiver in the league is, the answer is always Hines Ward," Wilson said. "That's the bottom line. You say Hines Ward when that question is asked - nobody else is even close. He's a superstar because of the way he plays this game."
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