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Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed

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Monday, July 28, 2014, 8:21 p.m.

• Linebacker Jason Worilds appeared beaten on a deep ball to versatile rookie Dri Archer, but he had just enough of an angle to recover. Worilds flashed in front of Archer for a leaping interception, causing Tomlin to leap for joy. “That's the first time Jason Worilds has caught a ball in any fashion out here in practice and walk-through,” Tomlin said. “I'm going to paint that ball and give it to him.”

• Blount showed signs of being an effective power back, but he was less impressive during backs-on-backers drills. He struggled some on the slippery turf, but mostly he simply was overpowered by linebackers and defensive ends.

• Archer had every opportunity to prove he can be a potential nightmare for defenses. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who had success with diminutive running back Dexter McCluster in Kansas City, used the 5-foot-8, 173-pound Archer in the slot, wide receiver and the shot-gun formation. He struggled running some pass routes but seemingly had command of the ground game.

• Linebacker Sean Spence, trying to rebound from a knee injury that sidelined him his first two seasons, proved his competitive edge is still sharp. After getting slapped to the ground, he demanded a rematch with running back Tauren Poole and won.

• Cornerback Antwon Blake has earned a reputation as one of the league's best in special teams coverage. But he was outstanding in passing coverage, breaking up several passes and disrupting routes.

• Safety Jordan Dangerfield might be a long shot to win a roster spot, but he thrust himself into the conversation by consistently being around the ball. Twice he slipped blocks to cut down runners behind the line of scrimmage.

• Fullback Will Johnson said he's determined to prove he can be an effective pass catcher for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If nothing else, he proved he can take a shot. Safety Will Allen rocked him in a crossing route, but he held on and bounced up running.

• In an intriguing battle at wide receiver, Justin Brown was impressive during passing drills. Brown made two acrobatic catches, including a diving grab near the sideline. In the battle for a roster spot, he seemed to gain a leg up on a rainy Monday.

— Ralph N. Paulk

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