Steeler Training Camp Day 18: Tomlin not ready to draw verdict on rookies
August 19, 3:16 AM · Matt Pawlikowski - Pittsburgh Sports Examiner
LATROBE - Rain fell between practices at St. Vincent on Tuesday, but it didn't damper spirits.
With just two days left in camp, the Steelers practiced Red Zone drills.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger once again looked sharpe during drills, while Shaun McDonald made a great catch of one of them.
'We need to improve as a total offense," Roethlisberger said. "We need to set our goals higher and be better. We can't just rely on our defense every single game to win for us. We're setting our sights and the bar high this year."
Speaking of McDonald, barring a complete letdown, he will make the Steelers final 53 man roster. The veteran, who stands just 5-foot-10, showed he still has some skills by catching everything that came his way during the pre-season opener against the Cardinals. He is also just two years removed a 79 catch season.
The good people over at Steeler Depot had a great story about McDonald today. It talks about why he will make the team, and how he could fulfil a slot role.
CONTRACT STATUS UPDATE
The Steelers will have a lot of contract situations to be solved from a number of key contributors to last years Super Bowl. Ryan Clark, Jeff Reed and Brett Keisel to name a few.
Another is lineman Casey Hampton, a fomer first round pick of the team. Asked about it, Hampton had this to say.
" I can't worry about something you have no control over," Hamton said. " I don't have control over who they are going to pay or what knid of money they have,You just have to go out there and do my job. I only worry about Sept. 10,
The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts druing the season. If some money is not freed up, and Hampton re-signed, he has said he will explore options.
" Definalty if I play the season out, I'm going to go out and see what is out there," Hampton said. " That is a definate, so we'll see what happens with that. My main focus though is going out there and finishing the way we did last year. The contract stuff isn't really on my mind now."
TO BE OR NOT TO BE
In most situations, Training camp is a time to evalute the play of rookies. Steeler coach Mike Tomlin has a different take on things.
"I don’t try to evaluate those guys after an OTA session or a training camp or a first year or a first two years for that matter," Tomlin said.
BEN VS SHAQ
I've had the pleasure of not only interviewing Shaquile O'Neil on a number of occasions, but also meeting him personally as the big man was coached by my high school English teacher in Orlando.
But I have admit, I was leary of how his Reality show Shaq verse would be. Not only did it show the fun side of Shaq, but his first episode gave us an interesting look behind the scenes of Ben Roethisberger at his home.
To be blunt, it gave a lighter side of both guys and was fun. Like this comment from Big Ben during a game of hoops in which he beat him.
" Clutch, who comes through, you saw the Super Bowl," Roethlisberger said laughing before nailing a shot from the side of his driveway in a rock garden that Shaq missed.
The thing I liked best though about the entire show? Not the competition, not the lighter sides, but instead a Cleveland Cavalier chanting "Here we go Steelers, Here We Go!"
Gotta wonder how the Browns, who where listless in their opening 17-0 loss to Green Bay felt.
REED LIKING NEW TURF
Heinz Field may be one of the prettiest facilities around, but when it comes it the field, it has been continuously ranked as one of the worst by NFL players.
"It's called a grass field, but that's the first time I saw it as pure grass, and its in great shape," Steeler kicker Jeff Reed said. " We have the type of field now where we can re-sod it."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Told of Brett Farve coming out of retirement yet again, Roethlisberger said he had no clue, but added this quote.
"Shoot he did it right, he missed all training camp," Roethlisberger said with a laugh. " I'm going try that next year, yeah I'm going retire to miss camp."
Darnell Stapelton once again was out and did not practice, Tight end Sean McHugh was out with swelling in his knee. Mewelde Moore returned to practice, but was only working position drills. Defensive End Scott Paxson hurt his elbow during practice while Nick Eason injured his calf during practice and left early.
As for Moore, who has been hampered by a hamstring throughout camp, Tomlin said he is optimistic.
"Mewelde Moore is marching his way back," Tomlin said. " He was able to participate in individual drills, and we’re just going to keep him moving forward."