Saturday’s practice concluded with what used to be one of the most exhilarating drills of training camp- the goal line drill. It seems to get less exciting every year, though. Mainly due to the fact that the top tier backs aren’t really involved anymore- which is completely understandable.
Coach Tomlin spoke briefly on the subject after practice. “What better way to get to know them (the young running backs), and that’s what it’s about. I think one thing the National Football League proves to all of us is that backs explode on the scene every year.” That could be part of it, but let’s be honest here- you don’t want your starting running backs to serve as tackling sleds for hard hitting linebackers like Vince Williams. Williams has been blowing people up, and laid some big hits in the goal line drill. Williams has always been primarily a hard-hitting run stopper, but the 2nd year linebacker seems especially hard hitting this year. I’m looking forward to seeing him in preseason.
With the temperature up, the team is starting to see more fights breaking out. Two more small scuffles broke out during Saturday’s practice. During a red zone drill, Kelvin Beachum and Chris Carter got into it and had to be separated. In a goal line session, Maurkice Pouncey and Hebron Fengupo exchanged a few punches at each other before needing to be pulled apart. The play resulted in a touchdown by RB Tauren Poole. I would expect more fights to ensue in the near future.
Early in practice, Todd Haley led the quarterbacks in the garbage can drill. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t participate, but instead served as commentator for the fans. “He’s so competitive,” Roethlisberger told the crowd. “He’s so mad I’m not playing.” The quarterback followed up with a bit of a double entendre adding, “He’s just glad you guys aren’t booing him.”
Rookie Wide Receiver Martavis Bryant may have been the star of practice. During red zone drills, he was unstoppable. His size and athleticism were no match for defenders as he leaped and twisted to make touchdown grabs. Dri Archer’s renowned speed was on display again as he was up against Lawrence Timmons in one on one drills. The rookie RB/WR made an over the shoulder catch on a wheel route then sped past Timmons. Timmons has lost weight and gained a step…he’s by no means a slow poke. There was more than one time during the drills where Archer sped by him. This kid is going to a match-up nightmare this season.
The Steelers Sunday afternoon practice may be impacted by inclement weather, as thunder storms are threatening the area.