Steelers find different means of working out
Three days of lockout workouts this week featuring NFL players in Atlanta highlighted by 7-on-7 drills were so productive that a return engagement is expected to take place in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw said he will host the event at ESPN Wide World of Sports next month. Shaw's group of approximately 20 players, which includes the Steelers' James Farrior and William Gay and free agent Ike Taylor, again will be matched against a group of approximately 30 Oakland Raiders players, led by defensive end Richard Seymour and quarterback Jason Campbell.
The groups participated this week in non-contact drills, including 7-on-7 match-ups between the offense and defense, under the direction of Shaw and fellow trainer Chip Smith of Competitive Edge Sports.
"They're going to come to Florida," said Shaw, who won three Super Bowls as a New England Patriots assistant coach. "We're going to do a home-and-away. In two or three weeks, they'll be coming to us. We had fun. That's all we wanted to do — break up the monotony and play against someone else."
Because of the lockout, which is in its third month, players have been forced to find alternative ways to stay in shape since their teams' training facilities are off limits.
All players run the risk of injury during offseason workouts, but this year is different. Because of the lockout, players aren't covered by medical insurance normally provided by their teams.
For players such as Farrior, Taylor and Gay, who typically train with Shaw each offseason, these type of workouts aren't unusual.
However, history of sorts was made this week as it was believed to be the first 7-on-7 non-contact drills featuring players from different teams during the lockout. Players didn't wear pads, and no tackling was allowed.
"They went at it hard for three days," said Shaw, who said several members of the players union observed the workouts. "We want our players to be ready when the lockout is over and training camp starts."
It was an opportunity for Gay and Taylor to line up across from Oakland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former first-round draft pick who's trying to develop his timing with Campbell, the projected starter under new coach Hue Jackson. Campbell, who received a playbook before the lockout, ran scripted plays, according to NFL.com.
Shaw, who indicated his goal is to add more Steelers to the workouts as the lockout continues, said wide receiver Antonio Brown was expected to join the group Friday.
Shaw also said safety Troy Polamalu told him he will train in Florida after completing rehabilitation in California on an Achilles injury that limited his range of motion toward the end of last season.
"The plan when he gets here is for him to work out with us in the morning and rehab and physical therapy at Florida Hospital in the afternoon," Shaw said. "Working out is key for him. You have to rehab to get better. He said he's interested in coming down because he sees guys like Ike and James playing at a high level."
Shaw said Taylor, Farrior and Gay have made repeated attempts to convince other Steelers to join them in Florida.
"Come down for three or four days and make it like (voluntary workouts)," Shaw said. "They'll run their own plays, and then fly back to wherever they are. Hopefully, some of them will see what we're doing and what good shape those guys are in and want to stay longer."