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Old 08-05-2006, 09:01 AM   #1
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Default Rookies merit attention

Rookies merit attention, but in different fashion
Saturday, August 05, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Two plays highlighted the joy and agony of being a rookie during a crisp afternoon practice that was so entertaining it drew a round of applause from the thousands of fans nestled on the hills around Saint Vincent College.

Rookie receivers Santonio Holmes, a No. 1 draft pick, and Willie Reid, a third-round pick, each caught a pass that ended differently during full-team drills.

Holmes was dropped in his tracks by second-year cornerback Bryant McFadden, even though there was supposed to be no tackling.

Reid, on the other hand, sprinted deep past two confused rookie safeties to catch a 55-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Batch that ended the 2-minute drill and closed the day's activities.

"I guess it all depends on what side you're looking at," coach Bill Cowher said. "I wasn't applauding the blown assignment on that last play, which went for a touchdown. I guess every play's making somebody happy."

McFadden said his hit on Holmes was not a welcoming moment for the prized rookie near the end of his first week of training camp.

"Just livening up practice a little bit, nothing major though," McFadden said.

"I'm just making sure I'm practicing my craft and make sure he's practicing his craft. For me to be good, I need to get the best out of him and vice versa."

A (mostly) standing ovation

After Reid's touchdown ended practice, the team gathered around Cowher in the middle of the field for a few minutes.

When they broke the huddle, the fans applauded, many of them standing, as if they had just seen a Broadway show. Cowher said he had never seen such a reaction from a crowd at training camp.

"That was very kind of them," the coach said.

New QBs will play a lot

Ben Roethlisberger might play briefly in the first preseason game Saturday in Arizona, but rookie Omar Jacobs and Shane Boyd, a first-year pro, should get plenty of time.

"They're going to have a chance to play a lot in the preseason, I'll say that," Cowher said.

The difference between Roethlisberger and nine-year veteran Batch and the two young quarterbacks is palpable.

"It's their first year," Cowher said.

"You can see the difference in them in the huddle as opposed to the two veteran guys."

Kreider delivers winner

A drill they call "backs on 'backers" is a one-on-one blocking drill in which a score is kept. Yesterday, it was offense 6, defense 6 before fullback Dan Kreider hit a walkoff home run by standing up linebacker James Harrison in the final match.

"It was feast or famine with James, but Danny did a good job on that last one slowing him down a little bit," Cowher said.

Harrison, the starting right outside linebacker until Joey Porter returns from his knee surgery, made up for it later by neatly picking up a tipped pass for an interception.

"James Harrison is having a really good camp," Cowher said.

Injury updates

Linebacker James Farrior skipped practice because his back tightened up on him. Deshea Townsend returned to practice on a limited basis after leaving Thursday with a groin injury.

Quick hits

Scott Smith, the agent for cornerback Ike Taylor, left training camp after spending two days without talking to the Steelers about a new contract. The sides had been trying to negotiate an extension to the one year Taylor has left and before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March. ... The Steelers will practice from 12:30-2:30 p.m. today at Saint Vincent, ending it with their second live goal-line drill in the past four days. The players will be off tomorrow.
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Old 08-05-2006, 10:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rookies merit attention

get ike his extention damnit haha
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