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Inside the ropes: Red zone offense a point of emphasis

| Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, 7:22 p.m.
Steelers receiver David Gilreath beats Josh Victorian for a touchdown during practice Aug. 16, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reacts to the crowd after throwing a pass into a trash can during practice at St. Vincent College Aug. 16, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

• The Steelers struggled scoring touchdowns in the red zone last year, ranking 17th in the league, thus the reason why Mike Tomlin has made it a point of emphasis during training camp. During practice Thursday, the first-team offense managed only a pair of short receptions from Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders sandwiched in between an incompletion in the end zone intended for Heath Miller.

• After moving the ball to the 10-yard line and going against the second-team defense on their next try, the first-team offense used two run plays to set up a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown on third down.

• The Steelers worked on a 3-on-2 defensive backs vs. wide receiver drill in the red zone, with the offense getting the best of the defense. Toney Clemons caught a touchdown over Keenan Lewis, Tyler Beiler beat Andre Freeman, and Juamorris Stewart made a leaping catch over a pair of defenders in the back of the end zone for a score.

• Beiler, a free agent receiver out of Division III Bridgewater College, continued to impress during the pass-under-pressure drill, where the offense is backed up near its own goal line. Beiler made a pretty catch in front of Lewis for a first down.

• If Thursday's practice was an indication, Wisconsin first-year receiver David Gilreath will be the first to return kickoffs against Indianapolis on Sunday night. Gilreath took all the first-team kickoff return reps.

• The prettiest play of practice came during 7-on-7 red zone drills. From the 10-yard line, Roethlisberger zipped a pass to Brown in the back of the end zone. Safety Will Allen leaped and had the ball in his hands for the interception just as Brown reached over his back and ripped it out for the touchdown.

• During a light moment of practice, rookie safety Robert Golden belted out: “It's third-and-6.” Tomlin, standing by the first-down marker replied: “What? It's third-and-7. In the stadium, just look at the scoreboard.”

— Mark Kaboly

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