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Inside the Ropes: Steelers work on no-huddle offense

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton fakes out Isaiah Green during practice Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, at St. Vincent in Latrobe.

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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 7:03 p.m.

• The Steelers worked on the no-huddle offense during their final practice before Saturday's first preseason game with mixed results. The offense wasn't able to convert a first down on the first series but was able to rebound and move the chains on the second series. An inside handoff to LaRod Stephens-Howling gained two; Isaiah Green broke up pass to Antonio Brown across the middle and Lawrence Timmons knocked down a pass intended for David Paulson. The second series had Paulson catch a pass for 10 yards and Wheaton haul in another for 10 yards before Isaac Redman ran around left end for a first down.

• The no-huddle period showed a glimpse into what the Steelers personnel packages may look like this year. They had a three-wide receiver set with Jerricho Cotchery in the slot and Stephens-Howling at running back and a five-wide set with Brown, Wheaton (subbing for Emmanuel Sanders), Cotchery, Stephens-Howling and Paulson.

• While Le'Veon Bell and Jarvis Jones have been getting most of the attention among the rookies, Wheaton continues to get better every practice. Wheaton ran a deep cross during the team period and hauled in a pass by beating Troy Polamalu. Wheaton turned upfield and raced 30 yards into the end zone. During team goal-line period at the end of practice, Wheaton snagged a pass from Ben Roethlisberger across the middle, changed direction and scored easily.

• Sanders and Cameron Heyward sat out of practice because of undisclosed reasons and were joined by Curtis Brown (ankle), Matt Spaeth (knee), DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring), Terry Hawthorne (knee) and Nick Williams (knee). Wide receiver Plaxico Burress left practice early after falling on his right elbow/shoulder.

• The Steelers spent a considerable amount of time on special teams. Among the highlights were Shamarko Thomas and Wheaton working as first-team gunners, Reggie Dunn and Kashif Moore taking the first reps at kickoff return and Jonathan Dwyer as part of the “wedge” team on returns.

• The battle between punters Brian Moorman and Drew Butler might be the best in camp. Moorman showed off his hang-time ability with punts of 4.4, 4.4, 4.7, 5.0 and 5.0 seconds

• Officials were on hand last week to go over new rules with the team. Apparently Brown wasn't listening. After catching a pass against Da'mon Cromartie-Smith, Brown got up and spun the ball which is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty this year.

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