Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Monday, August 04, 2008

Kemoeatu back

As I told you would happen yesterday, Chris Kemoeatu returned to practice today when he was activated from the PUP list.

I got a good chance to watch Kemoeatu in the one-on-one drills and you see why the team likes him so much. He's just a big, powerful guy with a nasty streak.

He did about 10 reps in the pass protection drill and dominated eight of them, with only Ryan McBean and Kyle Clement getting the best of him on one rep each. And that's a rusty Kemoeatu.

The only question with him over the years has been his ability to pick up the playbook. It's not that he's not bright, but he does have some language issues that seem to hold him back a little.

© Today was a big day off for veterans as 10 guys sat out, most with groin injuries. I've come to believe that the groin injury is now an excuse for Mike Tomlin to give his vets a rest.

James Harrison, Deshea Townsend, Marvel Smith and Brett Keisel were among our groin injuries today, with Kendall Simmons sitting with a shoulder injury. None are considered serious.

© If you're looking for some feeling into how the team is thinking, Lawrence Timmons replaced Harrison in the base defense, while Andre Frazier replaced him as a rush end in the quarter. That would lead me to believe Frazier is the leading candidate as the fourth outside linebacker – though Bruce Davis figures to get a scholarship year as a third-round pick.

But if Timmons shows he can play OLB, maybe they let Frazier go and just keep Davis. I doubt that, though.

Bryant McFadden was in the base for Townsend. No surprise there.

Max Starks replaced Smith, while Darnell Stapleton took over for Simmons. That was a little surprising as Trai Essex, who had been in for Kemoeatu at left guard, moved to the second team.

© The team did some kick return practice today, with Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Jeremy Bloom, Willie Reid and Eddie Drummond taking turns deep.

Mendenhall muffed one of his attempts.

© Justin Hartwig seems to be getting his feet under him in one-on-one drills and is no longer being beaten by Chris Hoke, the team's best practice player.

Hoke goes hard every rep - it's one of the things the coaching staff loves about him. And he routinely makes whoever he's working against look bad because he's working at game speed.

Hartwig appears to have adjusted to that, which is a good sign.


Mike Tomczak said...

Sounds good Dale. I have alot of faith in Hartwig, he has to be better than Mahan, right?

Now I want Troy off the PUP list. I know some say rest him, I just want him conditioned to play..

Brian said...


Is there any concern that Hoke & the other DTs may be getting too much work due to Casey's prolonged absence (causing them to wear down before the season even starts)?

And how much longer will it take for Tomlin's point be made so they can actually get Casey in football shape instead of having him jog, ride a bike, & do work on the elliptical? I'm all for Tomlin putting his foot down on this issue, but not if it's going to hurt other guys by giving them too many reps.

Also, is Woodley back from the groin that held him out the last few days?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this has been addressed yet, but there's an article on the Steelers' page at that talks about finding our goal line back. It said Mendenhall performed poorly in the goal line drill and Tomlin expressed disappointment in him. But it said Russell displayed an excellent knowledge of how to get the ball in the endzone and at 225 lbs, he may be the goal line back for the team this year. So my question is, do you recall that drill, and do you agree with those thoughts?

Anonymous said...


What is with these groin injuries? Are they not conditioned enough or what? Just seems to me that they can not all be unprepared. Thanks.

Dale Lolley said...

The groin injuries, I am finding, are code for veteran's day off.

Mendenhall just needs to learn the speed of the game at the NFL level. He ran tentatively in the goal line. Can't do that. You have to go straight ahead and make a quick decision. That was Tomlin's message.

Russell looks good, but they'd prefer Mendenhall win that job.

I'm not worried about the DTs. I'd say by the start of next week, they'll have Casey back. Maybe a little later than that, but not too much.

Woodley wsa back.

Yinzer said...

I told yinz we never should have drafted Rashard Bustenhall. We should've traded dahn and picked up some big lineman. It doesn't matter who's toting the rock if there ain't no one blocking for them.

adamg said...

Dale, it just seems Hampton is not getting Tomlin's message. One of Casey's favorite sayings is, "the tape don't lie". He's right, it doesn't. It shows he was slower and easier to block with all the extra weight. When is going to wake up and stop deluding himself?

Anonymous said...


you wanted us to draft Owen Schmitt to be our feature back!!!!

Anonymous said...

...."One of Casey's favorite sayings is, "the tape don't lie". He's right, it doesn't."...

Was he talking about a tailor's tape?

Anywho, Dale in the PG today Hartwig said this:

"The center has a lot of responsibility on this offensive line," Hartwig said. "We're responsible for calling out the defense and the defensive personnel, the linebackers, who's doing what, declaring the defense, we're pretty much responsible for all the blocking calls. Everybody has their own individual calls, but the center sets the tone and decides how we block the play."

Is last year's experiment with Ben calling protections dead and gone?

Anonymous said...

What the heck are we doing about a punter???? The guy they signe dis worthless.

Dale Lolley said...

They're still looking at punters at all the preseason games. I believe they will have a guy at 80 percent of the preseason games played in August. They'll see every team at least twice.

Ben is still calling some protections. He has more freedom to check out of stuff. The center is responsible for recognizing blitzers and such.

As for Casey, this is a bit of a game of chicken. The head coach is trying to make a point by publicly chastising one of his star players. The player is fighting back a bit.

Yinzer said...

Damn straight, Owen Schmitt running behind Billy Latsko never would've been stuffed at the goal line!

adamg said...

Dale, Hmapton made a big mistake defying Tomlin after he was told about his weight and the consequences of showing up fat and out of shape.
It's one thing to show up the way Casey did and whole nother to do it deliberately. That is why I will be the least bit surprised if Hampton ends up on the PUP at the start of the season and misses the first 6 games. I think Casey is in for a real hard lesson here.

adamg said...

sorry, meant to say "will NOT be surprised..."

Dale Lolley said...

They won't PUP Casey for the first six games. That would be coaching suicide. You make your point in the preseason. But when push comes to shove, you want your best guys on the field.

adamg said...

Don't be surprised if they do. Tomlin cannot afford to let Hampton "win" here. You don't make a point well by sitting out a player who doesn't want to play in preseason games anyway. Keeping him out of games he wants to play will ensure the message is received loud and clear.

When Hampton went down with a knee injury a few years ago, Chris Hoke filled in very nicely. I think he can hold down the spot for 6 games.

Ben said...

This will most likely be Casey's last year with the team. They aren't looking to teach a lesson to a guy who wont be here next year. They'll get what they can from him and send him on his way.

I was hoping the F.O. would resign Casey after this year, but they aren't very big on signing aging veterans who will command a large salary -- especially ones who show up out of shape and unprepared.

Dale Lolley said...

Tomlin said that Casey will likely be back next week.

rocket9 said...

Good thing most of you aren't GM' Casey Hampton would be disastrous for the STeelers.He's the most important AND most valuable player on the D. Yes, he needed a knuckle rap and Tomlin is telling him that the old Cowher regime might have let him play himself into shape but the new Tomlin one is going to demand a player be in reasonable shape to start the preseason. Fair enough. But dont' delude yourselves that Hoke is any kind of replacement. He isn't. Is Casey as good as he was in say, 2005? No.but he's still amongst the top 3 NT's in the game and is the key to everything they do on defense.

Steve said...

you mentioned that clement was one of the ones to best kemoeatu in a drill, what are his chances of making the team? is he impressing?