Tiki who? That’s pretty much the sentiment the first day in pads brought to Steelers Nation. In fact one could go as far as saying ‘Moore who?’ Sunday was the first practice in full pads. And, the drills did not disappoint. The drills that drew the most attention were the backs vs. backers drills. These are drills where a running back lines up and will need to pick up a blitz from an incoming linebacker. Who out shined them all? Was it Mendy? Redman?
Rookie Baron Batch was easily the star of the day. All 5-10 and 210 pounds of Batch stood his ground time after time, successfully fending off blitzing backers. According to Steelers.com, he was initially fooled by Farrior on a swim move. But, he settled in after that and stood tall. He was even put on the 1st team and was required to block James Harrison – which he did very well. The Twitter world was all abuzz over how Batch performed yesterday. Tomlin did not have much to say about Batch’s day other than, “He’s a rookie.” I know it’s early in camp, but one can’t help but get a good feeling about this kid already. Eases one’s mind that the team might now have a solid blocker for Big Ben on those crucial third downs. Kind of makes me wonder if it was worth resigning Moore yesterday.
1st vs 2nd
The news coming out of camp last night also drew definitive lines between the 1st and 2nd teams on offense. The 2nd team is said to have dropped many passes and looked sloppy. Eh, it’s to be expected on the first few days. And, maybe the 1st team looks crisp because Big Ben and Co. worked on some drills in player organized workouts during the lockout. As every training camp implies, many player combinations will be tried and tested, video broken down and different standouts will emerge each day. What will be crucial is to see improvement from each player and (probably more importantly) have seamless transitions in performance when a 2nd team’er fills in for a 1st team’er.
Another FA says no
I reported earlier on Sunday that the Steelers are going to have a very difficult time signing some bigger named players because of the cap money they need to dump before August 4th, this Thursday. Daniel Graham, one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, was on the Steelers courting list over the weekend. As of last night, Graham signed with the Tennessee Titans. No Plax, no Graham. As I had suspected, the Steelers wanted a multi-year contract (as reported by the PPG) and Burress wanted the bigger contract. The Steelers did land Gay (financial details yet to be released), so pretty much the secondary that everyone was in a tizzy over is preserved. I hope to God it was worth it to keep Face Me Ike.
Dennis Dixon is holding out on coming back to camp. ESPN’s James Walker caught up with his agent, Jeff Sperbeck, who said that Dixon is looking to go to a team for a starting position. Fair enough. If it wasn’t for Big Ben’s suspension last year, Dixon wouldn’t have probably started the two games he did last season. Too bad he can’t stay healthy. Two of the three games he started since 2008 Dixon has injured himself in a way that’s left him incapacitated for the rest of the season… not a great way to market yourself as a starting quarterback.
Polamalu showed up today during the pads practice. That’s heartening. Hopefully the Achilles will continue to heal well and Troy is back to 100%. He says it will be a slow paced transition.