Notebook: Rookie LB Davis adapting quickly
By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Although he rooms with second-year pro LaMarr Woodley, Bruce Davis and fellow rookie Tony Hills have seemingly become inseparable at Steelers training camp.
Davis, a third-round pick from UCLA who is being converted from defensive end to outside linebacker, and Hills, a fourth-round offensive tackle from Texas, spent the latter part of last week repeatedly butting heads in one-on-one pass rush/pass protection drills.
The two were matched up by design to get extra practice reps for Davis, who couldn't attend the offseason OTAs because his class had not yet graduated, and to spark a competitive fire in the two draft picks.
"We're the two young ones and we have to make each other better," Davis said. "They drafted us. They expect us to play sometime in our careers. I'm actually fortunate to have a young guy like that because we teach each other a lot.
"He learns how to deal with the speed. I learn how to deal with a guy that out-weighs me by almost 100 pounds. Hopefully, for the next 10, 12, 15 years we're here together making each other football players."
Davis got off to a rough start at St. Vincent College, but as last week progressed, he began to settle in and steady himself.
By Friday night he was feeling feisty enough to engage Hills and running back Carey Davis in confrontations that almost resulted in blows being exchanged.
The extra practice reps have helped.
So, too, has the advice that's been offered by coaching intern and former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene.
"I learned more from him than I have in years of playing football in just the week that he was here," Davis said.
Woodley is playing an off-the-field role in his roommate's development.
"I'll be in there on the phone talking to my girlfriend, whoever, some friends from back home, and he'll be like 'You better hang up that phone and get in the playbook,' " Davis said. "So, it's good to have him there. He stays on me and gives me little quizzes here and there about the playbook.
"It's just great to have guys like that around."
Back in black
The Steelers re-signed center Doug Legursky on Saturday and released rookie kicker Julian Rauch.
Legursky (6-foot-1, 323 pounds) had signed with the Steelers in April as a rookie-free agent out of Marshall, and was then released on June 29.
Slow and steady
Wide receiver Hines Ward was among those who expressed hope that the Steelers might go to their no-huddle offense more this season upon reporting to camp.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is more interested in seeing the Steelers re-establish their ability to grind clock and close out games.
"We're a good no-huddle team," Arians said. "My concern is not the no-huddle; we're really good.
"What we have to get good at is what we were good at in September and October, slowing the game down in the second half with a lead and running the ball and not punting. We ran the ball really well against some good defenses early and then it didn't show up in the end of the season."
Woodley (groin), linebacker Mike Humpal (hamstring), tight end Dezmond Sherrod (neck) and safety Anthony Smith (groin) didn't practice yesterday.
Tomlin said Sherrod sustained his stiff neck during a collision with linebacker Lawrence Timmons during Friday night's "Backs-on-'Backers" drill.
"He's gotta get his head up," Tomlin said. "It's a technique thing. Hopefully, this teaches him a lesson."
The word from the coach
"I thought we had a very productive (Saturday). We bounced back from (Friday night's) performance." -- Tomlin on the Steelers' week-ending effort.