"I'm mad Tuesday" camp day ?
'I'm mad Tuesday' a big hit
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
By BOB LABRIOLA
LATROBE, Pa. ? Using Coach Mike Tomlin's own words, he didn't want the Steelers to ooze to the end of training camp. James Harrison did his part on Tuesday afternoon to see that it doesn't happen.
Following a morning special team practice that Tomlin described as "razor-sharp," the Steelers took the field in the afternoon for a workout that had a nice tempo, was hard-hitting and loaded with the kind of chatter that keeps the competitive juices flowing.
During another round of backs-on-backers, Harrison was matched up against Verron Haynes three different times. Twice Harrison bull-rushed Haynes and ran him over with collisions that echoed off the hills surrounding the practice fields. On the third, Harrison spun away to tag the imaginary quarterback.
While the popping of the pads makes for great viewing for the assembled fans, bull-rushing is technically a violation of the unwritten rules of backs-on-backers.
The linebacker gets to build up speed with a 5-yard sprint at the running back, and if this very situation would occur in a game one of the best weapons in the running back's arsenal would be to chop the on-rushing linebacker at the knees. But since this is training camp and everybody is on the same team, chopping at the knees is forbidden, and so the gentleman's agreement corollary to this is that then so is bull-rushing not allowed.
Harrison wasn't particularly interested in abiding by any so-called unwritten rules, and after practice he explained why to a group of reporters.
Harrison admitted that he bull-rushed Haynes, and then when asked if that wasn't against the rules, Harrison's answer was no. Why not? "Because it's 'I'm mad Tuesday,'" said Harrison.
Tomlin was asked for a more detailed explanation.
"Tell-'em-why-you're-mad-Tuesday, I think is what they called today," said Tomlin, who was pleased with how practice went, no matter what it was being labeled. "We had a great day today. We had a special teams practice this morning that I thought was razor sharp. We came out and competed and had a high energy practice this afternoon."
But why name the day?
"Who knows. It's Tuesday, it's the dog days of summer, whatever gets them through," said Tomlin. "I don't mind the chatter as long as they're working while they're talking. It's like elevator music to me ? I hear it but I don't."
What he had to hear were the pads popping, and while it's difficult to quantify and there are no statistics to support the contention, this camp is ending in a much more spirited manner than the 2006 version under Bill Cowher.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying this," said Tomlin about training camp as a whole. "I might be in the minority with respect to that, but it's been productive. The guys are competing, we're getting better. It's a process, and guys are respecting the process. They're showing mental toughness, they're focusing on the details. That's what has made it good for me."
And there is a lot of what Tomlin has called "ebb and flow," by which he means there are times when the offense does things to the defense, and just as many times when the defense does things to the offense.
An example is the past two days of the one-on-one pass-rushing drills. On Monday, LaMarr Woodley beat Willie Colon twice, before Colon horse-collared Woodley to the ground on the third repetition. Arnold Harrison got the better of Max Starks, who was lining up at left tackle, a couple of times before Starks clubbed Harrison to the ground on the third one.
On Tuesday, the offensive linemen controlled the drill throughout. Alan Faneca, Starks, Colon and Marvin Philip were just a few of the offensive players who handled their assignments well enough to "win" the drill.
But as everybody is learning here, tomorrow is another day. Maybe it'll be "Why we're mad Wednesday."
INJURY REPORT: Marvel Smith (back), Chukky Okobi (back), Chris Hoke (knee) and Derrick Jones (calf) did not practice. Jerame Tuman (back) returned. During the session Anthony Smith sustained a "minor injury that was abdominal related. Hopefully it won't be anything major and that's the indication we have right now," said Tomlin.
"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."