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Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday news, practice notes

It's not often that things live up to the hype, but Monday's first day of practice in pads for the Steelers certainly did.

Just in case you were wondering if the team was ready to start hitting, running back Baron Batch and linebacker Marshall McFadden alleviated any concerns by nearly coming to blows early on in the backs on backers drill.

As the two squared up after several seconds of pushing and shoving, running backs coach Kirby Wilson jumped in, pulling Batch away, yelling, "Kick his ass on tape."

McFadden, however, was one of the more impressive players in the drill, showing plenty of explosiveness from his inside linebacker position. I felt Stevenson Sylvester flashed as well, showing that the battle for depth at the inside linebacker position might be a good one.

Rookies Jarvis Jones and Le'Veon Bell were paired four times, splitting the matchups.

Bell had a tough go of the drill early - then again, he did get 10 reps, well more than anyone else. He was matched first against LaMarr Woodley, then Lawrence Timmons, before finally getting a break against Chris Carter, whom he battled to a stalemate.

Offensively, demure running back Curtis McNeal (5-7, 191 pounds) showed a good use of leverage. After one rep against Adrian Robinson, head coach Mike Tomlin remarked, "He's a mean little sawed off dude."

@ Bell also got some work with the first team in the final team portion of practice, splitting time with Isaac Redman.

He showed some power in an earlier team portion, blasting safety Robert Golden to the ground to finish off a sweep.

@ Jones had an up-and-down day. Three times he failed to get off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball - once in backs on backers, two more times in one-on-one rushing drills.

But he did make a nice play blitzing on Ben Roethlisberger, leaping to tip a pass into the air. Roethlisberger grabbed the ball out of the air, but was unable to advance.

@ Rookie Markus Wheaton joined the ranks of the punt returners today.

@ Tough day in the one-on-ones for rookie center Joe Madsen. He was rag dolled to the ground by massive Hebron Fangupo, causing Tomlin to holler, "Have a little dignity, Joe."

At least Tomlin knows his name.

@ Cortez Allen (knee), DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) and Terry Hawthorne (knee) were all held out of practice Monday. All three corners could be back at practice by Wednesday - though I have my doubts about that with Van Dyke, who was visibly hurting when he walked.


Anonymous said...

I think Redman has a legitimate chance of unseating Bell as the feature back. People were too quick to dismiss him due to a combination of injuries to him and to the offensive line. This may be his year.

I think Bell will be good but I would have rather the Steelers added depth to their Oline in the second round.
Now it is a really crowded backfield. We might need them all but we if we have less injuries than last year we won't.

I think we will keep Bell, Redman, Dwyer, and Howling this year and let Batch go. Everybody else (except perhaps Bell) is a proven pass protector so we don't need Batch. Who knows maybe that little guy McNeal will make the practice squad?

Mrs. Isaac Redman

Patrick said...

In a year, Redman and Dwyer are likely to both be on different teams. And in Redman's case, even if re-signs he will be over the hill or close to it.

Bell was a necessary pick for the future. He is a starter from at least 2014 - 2016 barring a bad injury or Dwyer breaking out this year and next. Even if Redman has a great year, he's much closer to the end of the line then the beginning of it.

Patrick said...

and of course Bell might start in 2013. But at the very least be a strong contributor.

Anonymous said...

In 2014 Redman will be 29. As of now he has 324 career touches, including kick returns. That's about as much as any starting running back gets in ONE year. On top of that, considering he's more of a role player than every down back... I don't think he'll be over the hill. He can be a short yardage and 3rd down back for another 3-5 years, easy.

I have no idea who will be the starting running back week 1. I expect it to be Bell by the end of the season or next season at the latest, but I don't remember the last time we had three running backs on such even ground, all pushing each other so hard, and all looking so good. It's going to be a fun preseason.

Anonymous said...

Stevenson Sylvester flashed?

Don't the Steelers have enough criminals on the team?

Patrick said...

Redman could have never had a carry in the NFL for all it matters. 29 is 29, especially for a running back.

And maybe he hangs around with the Steelers for a few seasons, but as you say, not as a feature back.

I wish Dwyer would of been consistent last year and they could trust him to be a starter. But they can't and Bell was a needed pick. All I'm saying.

Horace said...

This is fantastic!