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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Garbage time

In a practice dominated by special teams, the story of the morning for the Pittsburgh Steelers involved … garbage cans?

The old throwing the ball from different distances into a garbage can made a comeback here Wednesday morning as the quarterbacks – with nothing better to do while the rest of the squad worked on special teams – had a little competition trying to throw the ball into a can.

It was a drill made famous here during the Kevin Gilbride days as offensive coordinator. But new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wasn’t working on the drill so much for skill – though obviously some is involved – as much as for fun.

In fact, it wasn’t only the quarterbacks who got into the action as Arians and a number of other coaches got into the action as well, scoring three points for hitting the can on the fly and five for a slam dunk. Hines Ward, who had worked as the QBs receivers while the rest of the group practiced special teams, also got into the action, as did Santonio Holmes, who is still out after having his undisclosed surgery.

The one good thing that came out of the game was Holmes showing off his throwing accuracy. He hit the can a number of times and put one in, showing better touch than many of the others who attempted it. Since head coach Mike Tomlin was on hand watching that rather than yet another special teams practice, maybe he saw some possibilities for Holmes to run some gadget plays.

Down on the other field, special teams coach Bob Ligasheshky was having his run of the morning as the team focused on kickoff returns and coverage.

The primary kick returners were Chris Jackson, Najeh Davenport, Dan Shelton, Cedrick Wilson and Willie Reid. No Ricardo Colclough here.

The first-team coverage and kickoff units included a number of starters or possible starters: James Harrison, Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden and Anthony Smith among them.

But really, the morning hour practice was so meaningless for many of the players that the entire offensive line cleared out after 45 minutes of standing around, while Ward also called it quits early, giving up on the garbage can football game with 10 minutes to go – mainly because he was well behind the other competitors.

One nugget of news I gleaned this morning was that despite Tomlin saying that Ryan Clark will be the No. 1 free safety coming in, he and Smith will rotate with the first team defense throughout camp until one wins the starting job.

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