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Steelers notebook: Tomlin sees 'good communication' with WRs on 1st day

| Saturday, July 26, 2014, 8:21 p.m.

• Coach Mike Tomlin never begins fully assessing his personnel until the pads come on at training camp – and, for the Steelers, that's not until Monday. But he liked how the first practice of camp went Saturday, saying, “(We had) good energy, enthusiasm, but you can anticipate that on the first day. More than anything I liked the good communication we were giving the receivers, the information, coach to player, player to player. We're going to be what we desire to be. That's going to be a big element of it.”

• The only apparent injury was to offensive lineman David Snow, who injured a foot or ankle, according to Tomlin.

• Why does Ben Roethlisberger like the no-huddle so much? To him, it's not just what it does for the Steelers offense by getting it into a rhythm, but also what it does to defenses. “It's something that, when it's working, it can back defenses off,” he said. “And they can't get quite as exotic, and that helps us. They're rushing only three or four guys and trying to drop and cover. We became a very dynamic passing team in the second half (of the 2013 season). (That) made teams bring in nickel guys and smaller guys, which then let us run spread run plays, and we have a big, powerful back (Le'Veon Bell) in which we can do that. So it's nice to have the diversity.” Roethlisberger also was sacked only 11 times during the second half of last season after being dropped 31 times in the first eight games.

• Following an offseason in which the Steelers did not identify a starter, Markus Wheaton is the front-runner to replace Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver. He already is getting the most work with the first unit, ahead of rookie Martavis Bryant, free agent Darrius Heyward-Bey, second-year receiver Justin Brown and slot receiver Lance Moore. Heyward-Bey said, “Markus, he's literally the first person in the building, and he works hard so I see nothing but good things from him.” Wheaton's rookie season was limited to six catches.

• This is the first Steelers training camp since 2002 without defensive end Brett Keisel and, to honor him, Roethlisberger wore Keisel's No. 99 – though he discarded it because it was “too tight.” To replace Keisel as a locker room leader, several players identified defensive end Cam Heyward, who moved into the lineup only last season but already is assuming a leadership role much like Maurkice Pouncey is with the offensive line.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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