It was pretty uneventful day news wise on Wednesday, day 7 of Steelers training camp, but there still was a little to talk about.
First off, for everyone still interested in former kicker Jeff Reed, I told you yesterday that he was visiting the Seahawks and today it was announced that he was signed by them. This means that Skippy is set to return to Pittsburgh week 2 when the Steelers host the Seahawks. I suspect he will get an earful from a portion of Steeler Nation.
Rookie undrafted tight end Weslye Saunders joined David Todd and I for a mid morning interview and you can listen to that Thursday when we release another episode of The Terrible Podcast. I will keep let you know when that is posted.
Chris Hoke and Antonio Brown were both on 93.7 The Fan this morning to talk to Jim Colony. Hoke talked about his decision to return to Pittsburgh and Brown talked about taking advantage of his increased reps thus far in camp due to Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders not practicing right now. Brown also talked about his role as the return man this season.
Bodog released their new future odds this morning and they have the Steelers now at 14/1 odds. The Steelers were 10/1 odds following the loss to the Packers in the Super Bowl and it seems people are jumping on the Patriots and Eagles bandwagon after the initial free agency signing period. Don\’t read too much into these odds, but they are fun to look at.
Ryan Clark made news this morning when he said the Steelers players likely will not vote to ratify the new CBA unless Commissioner Roger Goodell has his power limited when it comes to fines or suspensions. It is doubtful though that all the teams will vote this way and I think that Clark is just trying to make one more statement that he thinks the Steelers are being unfairly targeted by the league. The line media questioning led to Clark becoming agitated with the questions of Pittsburgh radio talk-show host Joe Bendle and the two exchanged words and team personnel and players had to separate them. I think only one camera was present though and I bet the Steelers will do their best not to let video surface.
Ed Bouchette reported that negotiations had indeed started on a new contract for LaMarr Woodley, but that the two sides are not close to getting a deal done just yet. The Steelers have 5 weeks to work on this and I expect it will take some time. The same goes for Troy Polamalu who said yesterday that he is looking forward to a new contract that will allow him to retire in a Steelers uniform. Expect these negotiations to pick up in a few more weeks.
Bouchette also made his weekly radio appearance to talk about the camp competition at right guard, cornerback and special teams. He also gave his thoughts on why he thought the foot injury to Sanders is a big problem for the Steelers.
Gerry Dulac reported that rookie Chris Carter need to work on getting stronger as he continues his conversion to an outside linebacker, but that he certainly does not lack the speed to play at that next level. Carter will remain a work in progress and will be brought along much like Jason Worilds was last year.
The afternoon practice was outside in a light rain and the Steelers worked on the field turf today. Still not practicing because of the new labor rule were: Ike Taylor, Ryan Mundy, Jeremy Kapinos, Daniel Sepulveda, Shaun Suisham, Greg Warren, Dennis Dixon, Mewelde Moore, Doug Legursky, Willie Colon, Tony Hills, Jonathan Scott, John Gilmore, Chris Hoke and William Gay. This may or may not change tomorrow depending on how the ratification process goes I mentioned above. several of the above players were spotted on the field giving instructions to the younger players.
Not practicing today due to injuries were: Erik Clanton (quad), Cortez Allen (hamstring), Crezdon Butler (hamstring), Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), Bryant McFadden (hamstring) and Sanders (foot). Polamalu and James Harrison were given the day off on Wednesday. Still on the active PUP are Ward, Chris Kemoeatu and Eugene Bright. Ward hopes to start practice very soon.
Kyle Jolly and Chris Scott remain the first team tackles with most of the starters still sidelined. Keenan Lewis and Curtis Brown were the first team cornerbacks today and both had productive days according to reports. Lewis had a nice break up of a deep pass intended for Mike Wallace as one of his bright spots. Will Allen played first team with Polamalu sitting out today.
The quarterbacks and wide receivers looked sloppy early on according WPXI as quite a few fell incomplete. Ben Roethlisberger went 3-3 during the first 11 on 11 series and it included a deep completion to Arnaz Battle on a blown coverage. Battle continues to silently have a great start of camp thus far from reports. Baron Batch continued his hot start and Limas Sweed was noted as having a good day along with Brown and Heath Miller as the Steelers worked on tight end screens.
Harrison caught everyone\’s attention when he was seen leaving the field with his back surgeon, but many speculate it was only because Harrison was scheduled for a check up and he was seen laughing when leaving the field.
Mike Tomlin took a few questions after practice and recapped the injuries, his thoughts on the effort today and his expectations that the players that are prevented from practicing due to the labor rules will return Thursday unless he hears otherwise. Despite another good practice by Batch, Tomlin still will not praise him openly and instead just says he is a rookie. That indeed is praise if you have listened to Tomlin long enough, but he also will wait to see Batch do it during a preseason game instead of practice. Nothing wrong with that.