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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday afternoon

he Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt ther first major injury blow Tuesday when they learned center Chukky Okobi may be lost for the season because of a ruptured disk in his neck.

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher said the injury, which occured sometime last week and has been bothering the backup center for the past week, may even be career-threatening.

Because of the injury to Okobi, rookie Marvin Philip takes a step up the depth chart and even saw time with the first team offense Wednesday afternoon.

Philip has looked good at times and the team likes his potential. He was center for both groups in the two-minute offense drill and looked to have some problems with his long snaps.

Hines Ward tried to return to practice early, but left after some team drills as his hamstring is still tight. Cowher said it wasn’t a setback, however, and that Ward was just seeing how things felt.

Cowher did say that linebacker Joey Porter will likely be activated off the PUP list Wednesday and will practice for the first time in this camp. Porter has been out since having offseason knee surgery.

Of note are the fact that Mike Barr again worked with Jeff Reed as a holder and we’ve now learned he has a legitimate shot of beating out Chris Gardocki for the punting job.

Also, Rian Wallace’s spot as the team’s fourth inside linebacker is also in jeopardy from Richard Sielger, who has surpassed him on the depth chart.

The Steelers head coach was in a better mood today than he was for yesterday afternoon’s session, but did take some time out to yell at defensive linemen Shaun Nua and Rodney Bailey.

“Come on Nua, show me something,” Cowher yelled to Nua moments after chastisting Bailey to, “stay low and come off the ball.”

Both are battling for a backup spot on the defensive line.

On the first play of team 11-on-11 drills, Heath Miller made a beautiful one-handed catch of a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the flats. He took one step, however, and had the ball stripped by James Harrison. Deshea Townsend picked the ball up and easily scored.

On the ensuing play, Roethlisberger threw deep to Cedrick Wilson, but was intercepted by Troy Polamalu, who made a nice over the shoulder running catch.

Rookie wideout Santonio Holmes continues to have his ups and downs.

On one play, he dropped a perfect pass down the sideline from Charlie Batch. On the next play, seemingly the same pattern on the other side of the field, Holmes caught the pass.

The play of the day belonged to Ike Taylor, who made a leaping deflection of what appeared to be a perfect Batch pass to tight end Charles Davis near the front corner of the end zone.

Shane Boyd and Omar Jacobs ran the two-minute offenses, with neither leading their unit to a score.

Boyd was picked off at the 20 by safety Mike Logan after overthrowing Willie Reid to end the first session.

In the second session, the defense gave Jacobs a little taste of crowd noise getting the fans in attendance to yell as well. The drill ended when Jacobs threw incomplete to Davis on fourth down from the 36.

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