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Monday, July 31, 2006

Day 2

After the morning practice was moved indoors to St. Vincent College’s gymnasium, the Steelers held their second outdoor practice Monday afternoon on the rain-soaked fields here. Defensive end Travis Kirshke (back), fullback Dan Kreider (foot) and linebacker Mike Kudla (hamstring) were held out of the session.

Rodney Bailey moved up into Kirshke’s spot opposite Shaun Nua on the second team defense and looked good.

During 9-on-7 inside running drills, Bailey shed a blocker, slid down the line and enveloped running back Cedric Humes as he hit the hole.

Later in one-on-one pass rushing drills, Bailey had his way with rookie offensive tackle Willie Colon, who lost some early battles to Bailey, Andre Frazier and Clark Haggans. Colon came back late to stone Bailey, Aaron Smith and Frazier toward the end of the drill. The kid seems to be a fast learner.

Trai Essex is continuing to see time at guard as it looks as if they are preparing him to fill the spot of Barrett Brooks as the swing guy on game days. Brooks is a great guy, but his days here appear to be numbered.

Brett Keisel was the star of the one-on-one drills. He’s a fluid pass rusher and really gets up the field quickly. How he handles playing the run every down remains to be seen, but his pass-rush ability is something the team doesn’t have in any of its other linemen.

Over in the one-on-one passing drills, Nate Washington continued to shine, this time making a beautiful diving catch of a deep pass from Charlie Batch working against Ryan Clark.

In team drills, rookie corner Anthony Madison showed some flashes, batting down a couple of passes in coverage. Madison made a nice read on a quick out by Lee Mays to bat down a pass from Omar Jacobs. Later, he got a hand in front of Willie Reid to bat down a ball from Shayne Boyd.

Santonio Holmes tweaked a hamstring, but it was nothing serious.

He, Reid and Cedric Wilson were fielding punts during special teams session. Washington will also work in there and special teams coach Kevin Spencer made a point of having Washington field some punts at the conclusion of practice.

Rookie defensive end Lee Vickers (my sleeper pick to make the team) was worked into the lineup at outside linebacker. At 6-6, 270 pounds, Vickers is an interesting prospect. He reminds me a lot of former Steelers and current Patriots lineabacker Mike Vrabel.

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