Steelers go 14-for-14 in place-kicking drill
By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Head coach Mike Tomlin had promised a live place-kicking drill. On Monday afternoon, he delivered.
The Steelers attempted 14 place kicks, including six with the first-team unit -- minus holder Daniel Sepulveda and kicker Jeff Reed -- against a defense charged with trying to do everything it could to block them.
Connor Hughes got off all 14 from punter Mike Barr's hold without incident.
Defensive end Aaron Smith, a ninth-year pro and one of the first-team protectors, said it was the first such drill he'd taken part in since "high school."
Tomlin wouldn't say how rare he thought live place-kicking drills are in the NFL.
"We felt like we needed to turn the volume up," Tomlin said. "Whether or not it's rare really doesn't matter. This team is committed to doing what it takes to be great."
The first-team line on the place-kicking team remained the same as it was on Saturday night against Green Bay, featuring, from left to right, Brett Keisel, Smith, Trai Essex, Kendall Simmons, Greg Warren, Chris Kemoeatu, Max Starks, Travis Kirschke and Heath Miller.
The pressure that produced the block against Green Bay came up the middle, between Warren and Kemoeatu.
Reed and Sepulveda were spared the risk of injury and held out of the drill.
"Didn't want to make Jeff queasy," Tomlin said.
Back in action:
Guard Alan Faneca (shoulder), running back Willie Parker (knee) and linebackers James Harrison (ribs) and Lawrence Timmons (groin) returned to practice.
O-Line shuffle: Starks replaced Marvel Smith (back) at left tackle, and Faneca returned to left guard on the first-team offensive line. Center Sean Mahan, Simmons and right tackle Willie Colon lined up as they had against Green Bay.
Kemoeatu still hasn't played right guard with the first team.
Parker, Kevan Barlow, Dan Kreider, Verron Haynes, Gary Russell, Larry Croom, John Kuhn and Najeh Davenport took reps as the third-down back in a third-down drill. The first-team offense converted six of 10 opportunities against the first-team "quarter" defense.