Tomlin relents, shortens Steelers practices
By Scott Brown
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The Steelers worked out in shorts in the morning, and coach Mike Tomlin ended both of yesterday's practices about 15 minutes early.
"Yeah, I'm a nice guy," Tomlin said with a smile.
When he put together the schedule for camp, one that included 15 two-a-day practices, Tomlin said he did so with the idea that he would make changes to it (i.e. shorten practices or eliminate them altogether) if the players met certain standards.
"They're playing with great energy and enthusiasm, so we want to throw them a bone every now and then," Tomlin said.
Tomlin also has to be mindful not to wear out his players during training camp. Camp is longer this year since the Steelers are playing in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, and the team is doing much more hitting than it did under Tomlin's predecessor, Bill Cowher.
"Yeah, I think that's a concern," strong safety Troy Polamalu said on how physical the practices have been. "We've been used to something (else), at least for me, the last five years, and some guys seven or eight years."
? Steelers left outside linebackers James Harrison (ribs) and Lawrence Timmons (groin) didn't practice yesterday. The players that are first and second, respectively, on the depth chart at their position are day-to-day, Tomlin said. Timmons was sidelined for most of the Steelers' offseason practices because of a groin injury, and he recently had tests to determine the cause of it, Tomlin said.
? The Steelers held running back Verron Haynes (knee) out of practice yesterday. Tomlin said the team is easing the veteran, who had reconstructive surgery last November, back into practice.
? The Steelers, Tomlin said, are also trying to find a way to work linebacker Derek Rehage (thumb) into practice. Rehage has a cast on his thumb.
? The team did get good news, as tight end Matt Spaeth returned to practice after missing some time with a minor shoulder problem.
? Wide receiver Santonio Holmes appeared to be at full strength as he went through drills yesterday.
"It looks as though he's good enough to go," Tomlin said.
Holmes has been recovering from an undisclosed medical procedure.
? Chris Jackson apparently made more of an impression on the Steelers players than he did on the coaching staff. The rookie wide receiver, who was given the nickname "Click Clack" because he wore a pair of Under Armour cleats to the team's first minicamp practice in May, was released after just a week of training camp. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder had signed with the Steelers in April as an undrafted free agent. In addition to releasing Jackson, the Steelers signed wide receiver Gerran Walker.
? Tomlin had high praise for Max Starks after the right tackle excelled during a pass-blocking drill yesterday afternoon.
"He's getting after people," Tomlin said. "He came (to camp) in shape. I've been impressed by him."
Starks, a fourth-year veteran, is getting pushed for his starting job by second-year man Willie Colon.
Colon started the final two games of the 2006 season when Starks was sidelined with a knee injury.
? The Steelers claimed linebacker Marquis Cooper off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks yesterday and waived safety Harrison Smith. Cooper signed with the Steelers last October and was on the roster for three games. He played in two of them before getting released on Nov. 25.
The difference between Steelers turnovers and that of their opponents last season, putting them near the bottom of the league in turnover margin.