Rookies enliven camp with annual show
Limas Sweed is no fan of frogs. So imagine the Steelers wide receiver's reaction when he picked up his helmet during practice Monday morning and one was inside his visor.
If the prank perpetrated by kicker Jeff Reed and punter Daniel Sepulveda drew its share of chuckles, it didn't compare to the laughs generated by the show the rookies put on for the veterans Sunday night.
The highlight of what has long been a camp ritual came when linebacker Andy Schantz spoofed Reed by trashing a bathroom that had been set up on stage — and been completed with just the right touch, a Sheetz sign.
"That probably goes down as the best (skit) I've seen out of the 12 years I've been here," wide receiver Hines Ward said.
Such lighter moments help players get through the monotony and drudgery of camp. They are also seen as important in bringing the team together while the Steelers are at St. Vincent laying the foundation for the upcoming season.
"It just builds team chemistry," veteran defensive end Travis Kirschke said, "and gives you something to look forward to."
Ryan Clark agreed.
"That's what the rookie show is about: allowing the guys to kind of let loose," the starting free safety said. "They take so much heat from us, they take so much heat from the coaches, so it's their opportunity to shoot back at us."
The rookies took dead aim at Reed, who paid a small fine for criminal mischief last February following an incident that happened in a Sheetz restroom. Reed, according to police, got upset because the dispenser in the New Alexandria store had run out of paper towels, and he roughed it up.
The rookies were able to put together a set that helped make the Reed skit the highlight of the evening.
"They had pretty much anything you can find in the bathroom," Reed said, "and they started off putting the microphone near the toilet and flushing the toilet so it actually kind of set up the scene."
Schantz, who acted in high school and college, stole the scene with his impersonation of Reed. Apparently Schantz, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, takes direction well because he didn't know about the Reed incident prior to re-enacting it.
When asked what he was told to do, Schantz said, "Just to go in there and pretty much smash the whole set apart. I was kind of uncomfortable at first because I didn't want to offend him, but it was all in fun."
"It was actually pretty hilarious," Reed said. "He got me pretty good, but if you're going to dish, you've got to take."
More might be coming Reed's way after what he and Sepulveda put in Sweed's helmet, though there was a difference of opinion between the two over who was more responsible for the prank.
"Jeff found it," Sepulveda said of the frog, "and he knew I wouldn't mind picking it up, so of course the first thing that comes to the specialists' mind is to put it in somebody's helmet."
They found the perfect target in Sweed, even though they were not aware of his aversion to frogs.
"We joke around a lot," Reed said. "That's a lot of reasons why we are successful, because we're laid back. But when it's time to work, we work."
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