Steelers notebook: Physical drills thrill Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is loving all the hitting that's going on at Steelers training camp.
“Of course, I can't get hit,” Roethlisberger said following a Saturday practice that ended with six goal line plays — four won by the defense, two by the offense.
Coach Mike Tomlin is dialing up the amount of contact work — at the risk of injury — because he has young players he believes must get the work. As Roethlisberger said, the Steelers shed a number of veteran players in recent seasons who wouldn't have needed so much physical work.
“We're young in a lot of areas, particularly in the lines,” Tomlin said. “We've got young, talented defensive linemen and young, talented offensive linemen. The only way to improve is to play football. I've said it many times, but it's something I believe in and I'm going to give (them) an opportunity to show what they're capable of.”
After Saturday's practice, Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, a former Raiders assistant coach who is working in camp in a coaching-like role, posted this Twitter message: “The team is looking good.”
Tempers flare during drills
Goal line drills and contact sometimes cause brief friction between player and player, and player and coach, and that was evident Saturday.
About midway through practice, defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo and left guard Ramon Foster tussled briefly at the end of the play. During a goal line drill late in practice, offensive coordinator Todd Haley didn't like how wide receiver Antonio Brown walked away following a play, rather than waiting to be corrected. Haley barked at Brown, “Don't you want to come over here and get it right?” A few minutes later, Tomlin could be overheard talking to Brown about the way he reacted.
A number of players sat out with minor injuries, including defensive end Brett Keisel, nose tackle Steve McLendon, tight end Matt Spaeth and linebacker Jason Worilds. Both top draft picks were out, too: linebacker Jarvis Jones (unspecified) and running back Le'Veon Bell, who was seen with a wrap on his left knee.
Linebacker Adrian Robinson wore an ice pack on his right thigh. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons missed for personal reasons. Defensive backs Cortez Allen (knee), Terry Hawthorne (knee) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) also remained out.
Veteran OT Batiste added
The Steelers picked up veteran offensive tackle D'Anthony Batiste, who will be with his seventh NFL team. He has played in 37 games and started 14. He replaces non-drafted rookie free-agent guard Nik Embernate, who was waived after sustaining a serious knee injury, tearing two ligaments.