Spirited contact evident at Steelers' first practice in pads
Coach Mike Tomlin had a rather indifferent attitude about the Steelers' first practice in pads on Sunday.
He was pleased with the intensity level of the 2010 AFC champions, who worked overtime on Chuck Noll Field at St. Vincent College. But he wasn't nearly as impressed with his team's overall execution.
Yet, he said, it wasn't a bad practice, considering the heat.
"We battled some heat, but it was a good start for this time of year," Tomlin said. "We're not going to make any judgments. We'll look at the tape and continue to move forward."
There will be plenty of tape to review. The Steelers practiced nearly a half hour longer than scheduled.
"(Monday) is a work day, so there's nothing wrong with getting a little work in," Tomlin said. "Some licks were passed.
"In some instances, the hits were high technically. In others, we weren't violent enough."
Running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Baron Batch probably would disagree. Mendenhall was pancaked by linebacker Lawrence Timmons; linebacker James Harrison banged shoulders, forearms and elbows with Batch during the backs-on-backers drill.
"There was some violence out there," Mendenhall said. "We want to keep stacking good days on top of one another.
"With guys like Timmons, every matchup is going to be a five-star matchup. We're honing it out here, so we can do it when the games matter."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn't particularly sharp. But he was more impressed with the offensive execution than Tomlin, especially with a running game that sputtered in the Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.
"I did a good job of hitting guys," Roethlisberger said sarcastically. "But the offensive linemen and linebackers couldn't wait to get their pads on.
"There was some good popping going on. A lot of these young guys, we have to see some good things from them."
Inside the ropes
• Even though the Steelers re-signed third-down specialist Mewelde Moore, rookie seventh-round draft pick Baron Batch (Texas Tech) showed during Sunday's first practice in pads that the veteran Moore might have some competition when he arrives in Latrobe. Batch won five of eight opportunities during yesterday's 'backs-on-backers drill, including clean victories over Jason Worilds and James Harrison. Batch also made a couple of nice running plays up the middle, including a cutback run in which he juked a couple of defenders in the secondary. 'I just do my job and do the best that I can do,' Batch said.
• Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp during a 2-minute drill. With 90 seconds on the clock, one timeout, the ball on the Steelers' 40-yard line and a touchdown needed, Roethlisberger drove the offense to the 2 before connecting with Heath Miller for a touchdown pass as time expired.
Roethlisberger was 5 of 8 for 45 yards and a 15-yard scramble during the drill. He connected with receiver Arnaz Battle three times for 14 yards.
• Roethlisberger wore No. 78 during practice to honor former tackle Max Starks, who was released Thursday.