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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday in the park

With Hines Ward nursing a sore hamstring, Nate Washington to move into the starting lineup opposite Cedrick Wilson and stole the show early in the Saturday practice by making a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch from Ben Roethlisberger for about an 80-yard touchdown pass. Roethlisberger’s pass was a laser and went at least 60 yards in the air as Washington outran Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark deep.

The offense seemed to throw deep a little more often today after settling for short stuff earlier in the week.

Wilson also got deep for a 50-plus yard touchdown pass from Charlie Batch against Deshea Townsend and Troy Polamalu. Polamalu told Townsend it was his fault for not picking up Wilson in coverage.

Lee Mays made a great catch along the sideline on a pass from Omar Jacobs. Mays was working against rookie Anthony Madison, who also drew a flag for illegal contact from the NFL officials who were helping out at the practice.

Jacobs was picked off by Bryant McFadden, who had two interceptions on the day, on a pass over the middle when rookie wide receiver Wiilie Reid fell down.

McFadden later picked off an overthrow by Charlie Batch, who was also going to Reid. It’s possible Reid also cut that pattern too short.

There was one fight in practice today as center Chukky Okobi and linebacker Andre Frazier squared off. Willie Colon, of all people, was trying to play peacemaker in the skirmish.

Frazier looks outstanding in pass rushing drills and just plain mauled Heath Miller in tight end-linebacker drills. He took Miller and put him on his back during the drill. Frazier added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and it appears that it was a very good move.

In the goal-line drill, the first-team defense ruled the day again.

Of interest, however, was that Willie Parker’s name has also been thrown into the short-yardage back debate.

Parker got the first two carries in the drill, being stopped for no gain on first down and a gain of three yards on second. Both runs were between the tackles.

Verron Haynes was stopped for a two-yard loss on third down and then failed to get into the end zone on a dive through the line to the 1 on fourth down.

Duce Staley was in the backfield with the second unit, which included linebacker James Harrison at fullback and defensive end Brett Keisel at tight end.

Staley carried for a one-yard gain on first down and Batch threw a four-yard TD pass to Harrison in the front corner of the end zone on second down to get the score. Keisel was also open in the back corner of the end zone on the play.

In addition to Ward, linebacker James Farrior was limited by his sore back Saturday, skipping the team drills. Add wide receiver Isaac West to the list of walking wounded as well. West has a bone bruise in his knee. Linebackers Joey Porter and Mike Kudla, and wide receiver Eugene Baker also remain out.

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