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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

And then there were none

Here is it good readers, the final practice report of this, the 2006 training camp of the defending world champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

For those of you who are new to this blog, reporters are permitted into the team’s practices during at their offices on the South Side. We’re just not allowed to give you a detailed report of what happens like we are from training camp.

I'll still be blogging throughout the season with whatever info I dig up here or there, but detailed practice reports are out until next year.

So without any further ado, here is what happened at today’s session here at Saint Vincent College:

With Deshea Townsend out with a broken right thumb, Ricardo Colclough was surprisingly in the starting lineup. Apparently it was not only a surprise to the media, but to second-year corner Bryant McFadden as well.

“I guess it’s out of my hands,” said an obviously disappointed McFadden. “Coach (Bill) Cowher told me after practice that it didn’t have anything to do with my play. That he was just making this move based on feel. I’m disappointed. I’m a competitor and I want to be out there as much as possible. But there’s nothing I can do but play football when I do get out there.”

The team practiced in shells only today as it spent most of the session preparing for Friday night’s preseason game at Philadelphia.

As he has done for a good part of the last two weeks, right guard Kendall Simmons took some snaps at center, with Chris Kemoeatu moving into the starting lineup at guard. Simmons, however, had his first miscue at center, as he and second-string quarterback Charlie Batch botched a snap.

There were also some changes in the second team offensive line, as Trai Essex slid back outside to left tackle, with Kemoeatu playing left guard, rookie Marvin Philip at center, Barrett Brooks at right guard and rookie Willie Colon at right tackle. Colon looked out of place at left tackle last week and the team is likely readying Essex to fill the third tackle spot while also getting Kemoeatu prepared to be the third guard.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu, sporting a nifty pair of green and gray argyle socks throughout practice, made an outstanding diving interception in the end zone when the team began working on 7-on-7 red zone with the first team offense against the first team defense.

Colclough, apparently wearing a pair of shorts that was too big, stripped down to his undershorts for one play before Townsend gave him his shorts, causing several guys on the sidelines to yell, “Thanks Shea.” Thanks Shea indeed.

Linebacker James Farrior tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass intended for tight end Heath Miller and the ball caromed into the air just in front of the goal posts. Polamalu came from at least 10 yards away to make the diving pick.

Roethlisberger rebounded, though, throwing TD passes to Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson. Washington’s TD came working against safety Ryan Clark and corner Chidi Iwuoma. Wilson’s catch came with safety Mike Logan draped over his back.

Lee Mays had a nice one-handed grab along the sidelines from Omar Jacobs, while Santonio Holmes made a beautiful grab in traffic at the goal line from Jacobs for a score.

The team was very loose today in its final full practice of this training camp. With just a walkthrough Thursday, the road race back to Pittsburgh will begin around noon.

Wide receivers Hines Ward and Isaac West, tight end Jerame Tuman and center Chukky Okobi joined Townsend on the sidelines, though Okobi again centered for the 7-on-7 drills.

I hope you all have enjoyed your daily looks into training camp and I hope you continue to stop by as I offer tips on what I'm seeing around the NFL.

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