Today marked the first day in pads for the Steelers at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. Head Coach Mike Tomlin, knowing his players had a day off on Monday, kept his team on the field for about two-and-a-half hours.
-Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger took the field wearing the old number 78 practice jersey of his good friend, Max Starks who was released by the team prior to the start of camp. Roethlisberger said it was a tribute to Starks, the two were drafted in the same year (2004) and their lockers were next to each other at the Steelers’ training complex on the South Side.
-RB Baron Batch, the rookie out of Texas Tech was far and away the star of today’s practice. Batch excelled in the “Backs-On-Backers” blitz pick-up drill, stone-walling several Steeler LB’s including James Harrison, Stevenson Sylvester, and Jason Worilds. Tomlin was so impressed, he repeatedly commanded Batch to get back in the drill to take on one LB after another. Batch told me after practice he takes pride in his pass blocking skills and he says he’s the type of player who likes to do things other running backs don’t. Batch also showed quickness and speed during the team’s 11-on-11 drills.
-Back to the “Backs-On-Backers” drill. LB Lawrence Timmons set the tone on the first play when he bull-rushed RB Rashard Mendenhall, and sent him tumbling heels-over-head.
-CB Bryan McFadden made a nice over-the-shoulder interception on a deep Roethlisberger pass intended for Mike Wallace in the 11-on-11 session.
-WR Limus Sweed didn’t practice due to a sore hamstring, he did do some running on the side, and at one point, he invited myself and a few other media members to join him. We declined.
-Keep checking our training camp blogs for the latest from Steelers training camp, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @JBurton70