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Old 07-24-2007, 06:23 PM   #1
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Default 2007 Steelers Training Camp Notebook Articles

http://post-gazette.com/pg/07205/803940-66.stm

Steelers Notebook: Tomlin not so tough on first day

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


After all the talk of how tough his training camp would be, new coach Mike Tomlin turned soft on his very first day at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

Not only did he relieve more than half the team from going through a run test yesterday, he stopped it short for the 35 players who did run it.

Tomlin revealed yesterday that those players who completed 44 of the 50 offseason workout sessions were absolved from running yesterday. The others were to run 110-yard jobs 16 times on the newly named Chuck Noll Field.

Among those running were some of the biggest names on the team -- newly minted team salary leader Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Farrior and Alan Faneca. Some players did not have to run but chose to do so anyway.

"Guys were doing so well we cut it at 14," Tomlin said. "It didn't look like anybody was going to have a tough time making it, a testament to their preparation. Hats off to them."

When Tomlin came up with the idea to give 51 players off if they had a good attendance record in the spring is unknown, but he did not spring it on his players until it was too late for many to make up lost time.

"We wanted to reward those guys for being in town and being part of a voluntary program this offseason," Tomlin said. "If they were here working out, we knew what kind of shape they were in."

Unable to go

Tomlin downplayed the fact that three players will open training camp today on the physically unable to perform list, including starting receiver Santonio Holmes.

The others are veteran halfback Verron Haynes and NFL Europa linebacker Derek Rehage.

All, he predicted, would be temporary.

Holmes "had a minor surgical procedure that's not football related," Tomlin said. "He'll be watching for a day or two but it's a non-issue."

They will hold out Haynes a day or two because of the surgery he had on his knee last season. Rehage recently had a pin removed from an injured thumb.

Promotion for Mitchell


Tomlin promoted defensive line coach John Mitchell to assistant head coach.

Mitchell enters his 14th season as defensive line coach, a job he will continue in his new capacity. He succeeds former offensive line coach Russ Grimm, who carried the title of assistant head coach the past two seasons.

This is Mitchell's 34th season in coaching -- 17 in the NFL, 15 in college and two in the old United States Football League. He is a former All-America defensive end at Alabama and the first black player for Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide. He began his coaching career under the legendary Bryant shortly after he graduated from college.

"John Mitchell is a very respected coach in this league by his peers," Tomlin said. "It didn't take me long to realize we share some philosophical thoughts on football. I thought he was a very deserving man."

Kirkland returns as intern

The Steelers released one veteran linebacker in Joey Porter this year, and picked up another yesterday -- Levon Kirkland.

Kirkland, who played for the Steelers from 1992-00 and made two Pro Bowls, has joined the team in camp for one week as a scouting intern. He holds down a full-time job as a minority student recruiter at Clemson, his alma mater.

"I'm just kind of seeing if I like it," Kirkland said. "It's an opportunity for me to see if I want to get back in it."

Timmons to practice


The Steelers officially announced the signing of top draft pick Lawrence Timmons, a linebacker of few words from Florida State.

Timmons' groin was injured in his first spring practice and he did not practice again. He said he's "100 percent" and plans to take the field this morning, when the Steelers hold their first of two practices today.

"I'm healthy, but I'm going to take it day by day and not rush things, be smart about it," Timmons said.

Throwback player

On the day he signed the richest contract in club history, Polamalu showed little sense of fashion. While running with his teammates during their test, he wore a pair of short, ugly, striped brown and orange socks that looked like they came from the 1960s and the home team in Cleveland Stadium.

"They're Jim Brown's old socks," Polamalu said. "There goes my whole check."

Camp critic


Polamalu has expressed his disdain for NFL training camps and how they are traditionally conducted in the past, and this one likely will be no different.

"It's like going through boot camp every year," Polamalu said. "The army only does it once. We have to do it every year."

Quick hits


All 86 players on the roster reported on time. ... The Steelers' second practice today is the first one open to the public, scheduled to start at 2:55 p.m. at Saint Vincent College.
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2007 Steelers Training Camp Notebook Articles

Notice this nice little piece...

Quote:
Kirkland returns as intern

The Steelers released one veteran linebacker in Joey Porter this year, and picked up another yesterday -- Levon Kirkland.

Kirkland, who played for the Steelers from 1992-00 and made two Pro Bowls, has joined the team in camp for one week as a scouting intern. He holds down a full-time job as a minority student recruiter at Clemson, his alma mater.

"I'm just kind of seeing if I like it," Kirkland said. "It's an opportunity for me to see if I want to get back in it."

Hmmmm.... Let's see... Bring back one of OUR BEST linebackers to make sure the tradition is carried on by our new linebackers? Hmmm... Coincidence or not, I LOVE it.
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2007 Steelers Training Camp Notebook Articles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
Notice this nice little piece...




Hmmmm.... Let's see... Bring back one of OUR BEST linebackers to make sure the tradition is carried on by our new linebackers? Hmmm... Coincidence or not, I LOVE it.
It's great Kirkland is there, we have two rookies that will be the future of the LB corps in the team, it's good they have the guidance of one of the best. If only Lambert was available
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2007 Steelers Training Camp Notebook Articles

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Duke View Post
It's great Kirkland is there, we have two rookies that will be the future of the LB corps in the team, it's good they have the guidance of one of the best. If only Lambert was available
Let's just feel happy we can get one of our greats.
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:26 AM   #5
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Default Steelers Notebook:Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Steelers Notebook: Roethlisberger ready to prove last season a fluke
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seemed calm and confident yesterday, out to prove to one person that last year was a fluke. That person is Big Ben himself.

"You can say all you want that you have to prove it to the fans and the media," Roethlisberger said. "I'm just trying to prove to myself that I can do it and my career's not over and last year was a fluke. It was a bad year and we still ended up 8-8 with a bad year. So I think we can come out and do better and I can do better."

Roethlisberger ran the run test on Monday even though he didn't have to because he qualified for a pass by making at least 44 of the 50 offseason workouts.

"I was trying to be a leader,'' Roethlisberger said. "I saw my line was going to run. I wanted to run with those guys and be out there with them."


Whistling through practice


Whistles are making a comeback on NFL training camp practice fields, and they may have made their first appearance at Saint Vincent College.

Whistles have been a part of football practices since football and whistles were invented. They're so important to the game that they are banned from stadiums.

But the staffs of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher didn't use whistles in practices. Noll or his coaches would scream out something if they wanted someone's attention.

The air horn made its first appearance in 1992 under Cowher.

Yesterday, coaching whistles blew all over the place. It sounded like a YMCA pool.


Spy games


Receiver Hines Ward had the quote of the day, when talk at lunchtime turned to Cowher.

"I thought I saw him up in the sky box looking down on us," Ward said, referring to the new press box at Saint Vincent's Chuck Noll Field, where the Steelers practice. "Maybe he was scouting -- I mean spying -- for the Cleveland Browns."


Camp observations


Rookie linebacker LaMarr Woodley is going to be one heck of a pass rusher. It was only the first day of drills and the running backs hate linebackers on backs drill -- a pass protection, one-on-one drill -- but Woodley ate Najeh Davenport for lunch, twice. That followed up a great spring for Woodley.

"I thought he did well in that drill," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He showed what he's capable of. He's a rush man. It's somewhat of a mismatch sometimes when LaMarr Woodley gets on a running back, so really you kind of expected him to get after some folks and I think he handled himself and handled the drill pretty well."

Dwain Painter, now a coach/scout for the CFL, and Joe Greene, a scout for the Steelers, chatted along the sideline. They were on Noll's staff together until Noll retired after the 1991 season. Painter, a former quarterback at Gateway High School, has been on the go as a coach for decades. Greene looks better than he has in years after acquiring a new hip a year ago and losing weight. He could now be Lean Joe Greene.

Tomlin cuts a much different figure than Cowher on a practice field. Cowher would wear shorts, a light shirt, a large straw hat. Tomlin dressed all in black, at least yesterday -- long pants, long shirt, sunglasses, black baseball cap. He also wears his dorm room key on a string around his neck, just like everyone else.

Practice started with special teams yesterday morning. If the Steelers do not improve on special teams this year, it won't be for a lack of practice. Tomlin even has scheduled seven one-hour morning sessions devoted to special teams in camp.

Verron Haynes watched morning practice with ice on his surgically repaired left knee. Part of the training camp drama will be to see if some young back -- John Kuhn or rookie Gary Russell? -- can take Haynes' roster spot. Haynes remains on the physically unable to perform list.

A botched punt return by Ricardo Colclough helped the Steelers lose at home to Cincinnati last year and seemingly set the pace for the rest of the season. Here, then, were the candidates lined up for the first punt return practice of camp: Colclough, Cedrick Wilson, Willie Reid, Jovon Johnson, Dan Sheldon and Chris Jackson. Santonio Holmes presumably will join him when he recovers from an unnamed non-football "procedure." Reid was drafted last year to return punts, but Cowher did not find a way to dress him for games until after the Colclough disaster and the first three games. He played in one game, left with a sprained foot and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook:Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I just hope that Big Ben doesnt get out there and press things to hard trying to prove that last year was just a fluke. He just needs to get out there healthily of course, and have fun. The young man is very talented and his career is definitely not over. I just think that this team did not have the discipline that they needed after the super bowl run we had the year before. I love Cowher but it just seemed like he let things go after he won a tittle.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook:Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quote:
Tomlin cuts a much different figure than Cowher on a practice field. Cowher would wear shorts, a light shirt, a large straw hat. Tomlin dressed all in black, at least yesterday -- long pants, long shirt, sunglasses, black baseball cap. He also wears his dorm room key on a string around his neck, just like everyone else.
that sounds very uncomfortable and extremely hot on a muggy summer day. anyone see any significance in the message this sends?

if tomlin is gonna make the guys sweat and be uncomfortable, he aint afraid to do it too. he sounds like he was dressed for work and to get down to business.

on the other hand, cowher and his silly straw hat, a pair of jams and some flip-flops always looked like he should be walking around with a mai-tai. i can see where some players mightve got the impression it was a relaxed, vacation like atmosphere.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: 2007 Steelers Training Camp Notebook Articles

Topics Merged. Please Keep all Steelers Notebook articles DURING TRAINING CAMP in this thread please. Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:01 AM   #9
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Default Steelers Notebook: ST's get new voice &attention

Steelers Notebook: Special teams get new voice, a ton of attention
Thursday, July 26, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Who said Bill Cowher left the building?

Listen ... you can hear his clone all the way from Latrobe to Ligonier.

Bob Ligashesky takes it over the top in the kicking game. He's the Steelers' new special teams coach. Think Cowher sprinting up and down the sideline in his early days as special teams coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Ligashesky, a graduate of Sto-Rox High School and IUP, also coached the special teams at Pitt. He makes more noise than the freight trains that thunder pass the two teams' South Side practice facility, but he has toned it down since spring.

"He's calmed down a little since we had the coaching sessions," linebacker James Harrison said.

What hasn't calmed down is coach Mike Tomlin's commitment to getting it right in the kicking game. He held his first all-special teams practice yesterday morning, the first of seven, in addition to the time spent in other practices on the kicking game.

"We just want to give it it's just due," Tomlin said. "That's a legitimate phase of football. It's a significant number of snaps in a football game, so we're putting the time in there while we have the time."

There were years, under Chuck Noll, the Steelers did not have a special teams coach. Tomlin has not one, not two, but three --Ligashesky is assisted by Amos Jones. Ray Jackson, who is in charge of the team's player development, also helps out with the kicking game.

How much more emphasis is put on special teams this year?

"A lot," said defensive end Brett Keisel, a former special teams ace. "Obviously we have an entire practice dedicated to it."

Most starters got a reprieve from playing on special teams in the past; not now. Starters flood the various special teams units.

"Coach Tomlin talked last night how special teams played a big part in the success of the Chicago Bears last year," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "That's why we had practice today. Special teams determines the outcome of two, three, four games that could get you in the playoffs or a playoff win or could get you to the Super Bowl."

Switches coming

Tomlin will switch some players who are competing for jobs, particularly in the offensive line where, for example, Chukky Okobi has been running with the first team at center. Soon, newcomer Sean Mahan could get his turn to run at first-team center.

"We visit that on a nightly basis on some guys who are competing for jobs," Tomlin said. "We will do that from time to time at every position."

Practice and fireworks

Training camp just opened for the Steelers and already there are fireworks.

No fights on the practice field -- not yet, anyway -- but there will be fireworks tomorrow night after practice. Zambelli International will stage a fireworks show at 9:20 p.m. after the Steelers hold their annual night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.

Practice begins at 7 p.m., and fans can get autographs of the players and coaches on the field at 6:45 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children under 18 and seniors, and free to those under 12 with a parent. Proceeds benefit the Greater Latrobe School District sports programs.

Quick hits

The Steelers talked to former NFL quarterback Aaron Brooks, but have decided not to sign him.

Kicker Jeff Reed and safety Ryan Clark have had their contracts reworked to create salary-cap room this year. The players receive the same amount but in a bonus form, a technicality that allows the team to push some accounting of their pay into future years.

Rookies Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers' top draft picks, played outside linebacker with the first-team defense in 7-on-7 passing drills, dropping into coverage.

Woodley says he weighs 264, and the coaches want him down to 255-260.

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes and running back Verron Haynes have not practiced.

Punter Mike Barr has never made an NFL team, yet this is his fifth summer in an NFL training camp. He started out in 2003 with the Washington Redskins, and this makes it four in a row in Latrobe. Barr's chances to make the team dipped when the Steelers drafted Dan Sepulveda in the fourth round. But Barr looks good and was booming them high and deep in practice yesterday afternoon.

It appears Sepulveda will hold for Jeff Reed's kicks.

To start the 10-minute team drill (11 on 11) that ended practice yesterday afternoon, the Steelers deployed three wide receivers on first down. On second down, they used three tight ends. They are things new coordinator Bruce Arians talked about using all spring.

Quarterbacks spent a few idle moments during morning special teams practice trying to lob 20-yard passes into garbage buckets. Former coordinator Kevin Gilbride had his quarterbacks do that often at Saint Vincent College in the summer of 1999, which prompted an old scout to note wryly back then that, when you practice throwing into garbage cans, you get good at throwing into garbage cans.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07207/804555-66.stm
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:03 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers Notebook: ST's get new voice &attention

Kicking game gets special attention

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Steelers have gone to the mattresses.

Not the "Godfather"/Tony Soprano mattresses, but the big pads designed to soften the blow for those giving their all trying to block an imaginary punt.

We'd seen that before at St. Vincent College.

Ron Zook used them when he was coaching the special teams back in the mid-to-late 1990s.

It was either Zook or Bobby April.

April was the special teams coach who replaced John Guy and preceded Zook.

Bill Cowher went through so many special teams coaches (one every three years, on average) it's difficult to recall who was responsible for what innovation.

From Guy to April to Zook to Jay Hayes to Kevin Spencer, they all had an angle.

What they didn't have was time.

The Steelers practiced special teams with regularity under Cowher, who began his climb up the ladder running Marty Schottenheimer's special teams in Cleveland and always paid enthusiastic lip service to their importance after becoming a head coach.

But they never devoted the time to the kicking game they have since Mike Tomlin took over.

Tomlin arrived with not one but two kicking game gurus, special teams coach Bob Ligashesky and assistant special teams coach Amos Jones.

They were busy men during the minicamps and organized team activities.

Tomlin suggested then that the seemingly endless special teams drilling would be curtailed once the Steelers hit Latrobe.

But there they were on Wednesday morning, conducting a one-hour workout devoted to nothing but "teams."

More of those are in store.

And the mattresses aren't the only toys in the special teams shed.

The Steelers have footballs attached to sticks used to simulate snaps that jump-start players who are trying to block imaginary punts.

They have a skinny post (not the one Hines Ward scored on against New England, but a thinner set of uprights, presumably designed to hone kicker Jeff Reed's accuracy).

They have a long-snapping net (presumably to hone long snapper Greg Warren's accuracy).

They have volleyballs.

They have Nerf balls.

And the time they're spending on special teams is estimated by linebacker/special teams captain Clint Kriewaldt to be about three times what they devoted to special teams a year ago.

There was some grumbling at first about the painstaking attention to detail and technique.

But with the arrival of the preseason, that initial chafing has seemingly been replaced by a new appreciation for special teams preparation.

"Hopefully, guys' attitudes are right," Kriewaldt said. "We're out here working, and I like where we're going. Coach Tomlin's a big special teams guy, and he's backing it up by giving us this time, the meeting time, the practice time, everything.

"We're going to be good. You think about how many games are won and lost on that phase and how important it is and how little time we used to put in and how little other teams put in, I understand why we're doing it."

Spencer had neither the time nor the influence on personnel necessary to avert a special teams disaster last season.

Ligashesky had an hour with which to work yesterday and an appointment with Tomlin to review film afterward.

"We're trying to give it its just due," Tomlin said.

That explains why the Steelers practiced special teams again yesterday afternoon.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_519024.html
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