Czech does good by Steelers teammates
By Scott Brown and John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The 52-yard field goal Piotr Czech kicked Monday afternoon may not have come in a game, but it was the next best thing.
With the chance to end practice a half hour early on another broiling day at St. Vincent, Czech drilled the long field goal and had plenty of room to spare on the kick.
"Thankfully for him, he delivered," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Hate to think what would have happened to him if he didn't."
The Polish-born Czech has had a strong camp but is a long shot to make the Steelers with Jeff Reed entrenched as the kicker. Reed said the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Czech, who celebrated his 23rd birthday yesterday, can "definitely" play in the NFL.
He'll get another chance to show the Steelers and other teams what he can do Saturday in a preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
"You're never just auditioning for your team," said Czech, who made a 44-yard field goal but missed a 36-yarder in the Steelers' preseason opener last Thursday. "You're trying to get film out there so other teams know what you've got."
• Cornerback Anthony Madison left camp yesterday following the death of his father. The special-teams standout has been given as much time as he needs to be with his family.
"When he gets back is when he gets back," Tomlin said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
• Steelers coach Mike Tomlin liked what he saw from the offensive line — and right tackle Willie Colon in particular — after reviewing tape of the goal-line drill that ended practice Sunday. Rookie running back Isaac Redman scored five times in seven rushing attempts from the 1-yard line. Three of those came against the first-team goal-line defense, which had stuffed the offense in the only other goal-line drill held during camp.
"I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage and gave Isaac Redman an opportunity to pick his spots and finish plays off," Tomlin said. "Gotta give kudos to Willie Colon and the tight ends that were working over there on the right side."
• The Steelers held wide receiver Shaun McDonald out of practice yesterday afternoon because of a minor calf injury. Rookie running back Frank Summers didn't practice because of a groin problem. Both are expected to return to practice today, Tomlin said.
• The weather has gotten considerably warmer as camp had progressed, and the days have been scorching since last weekend. That is just the way Tomlin likes it for practices.
"Love the misery the weather provides for us," said Tomlin, who usually wears pants and long-sleeved shirts during practices in hot weather. "Hopefully it continues in that direction."
1 — Isaac Redman's rank among the NFL leaders for touchdowns in preseason games.
5 — Wins in 18 preseason games the Steelers have played against the Washington Redskins.
Inside the Ropes
A daily look at the best parts of the Steelers' training camp in Latrobe:
PASSING GAME SHARP: During the first couple of days of training camp, the Steelers' passing game was clearly behind the Steelers' pass defense. If Monday's performance was any indication, the passing game is catching up. The quarterbacks and receivers were in excellent harmony, and they turned in several quality plays.
PRAISING THE O-LINE: Yesterday, coach Mike Tomlin cited the performance of the right side of the offensive line in general, and right tackle Willie Colon in particular. In addressing the play of rookie running back Isaac Redman during Sunday's goal-line drill, Tomlin emphasized that Redman ran primarily to the right side for his scores, and that Colon was instrumental in leading the way.
RATLIFF MAKING PLAYS: Veteran cornerback Keiwan Ratliff was signed to add depth to the secondary. Ratliff, who is listed as a backup behind Ike Taylor on the depth chart, is using his experience to make plays. Ratliff read quarterback Charlie Batch yesterday afternoon to make an outstanding diving interception on a long pass intended for Martin Nance.
MOORE ALMOST READY: Mewelde Moore, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, is close to returning to the practice field as a running back. Yesterday, Moore, although not wearing his helmet and shoulder pads, ran downfield with the punt team during special teams drills. It was an indication that Moore may be returning to practice soon in a full-time capacity.
LOGAN'S RUN: Free agent Stefan Logan, who muffed a punt Sunday, made a nice return yesterday afternoon, twisting and turning downfield and eluding defenders. After practice, Logan fielded simulated punts from special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, who made high tosses underhanded while Logan made catches holding a football under each arm.