LATROBE, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) – The Steelers released their two-deep for their Monday night matchup with the Redskins, and it lists Isaac Redman and rookie Le’Veon Bell as co-starters at tailback.
Bell, in fact, was unaware, until 93.7 The Fan’s Jim Colony (“The Fan Morning Show,” weekdays 5:40-10:00 A.M.) told him.
“I feel good about my work, I’m just going to continue to do the best that I can. Keep competing,” the Michigan State product said. “I’m just trying to make plays, not make too many mistakes. Do the right things.”
Bell has not yet played in a game due to knee discomfort, but he has been one of the best performers in training camp. Furthermore, the new zone blocking scheme has come easily to him as someone who used it in college.
“I’ve come a long way,” Bell said. “I think I’m going to continue to get better, but I still have a lot more to work on. I’m going to keep working the best I can, that’s all I can do. There’s nothing special or magic, just staying in the film, in the weight room and doing what I can.”
Still, Bell remains motivated by dropping to the second round of the NFL Draft, and the label of co-starter for the second preseason game does not pacify him.
“I was ticked off I wasn’t the first running back [drafted], that’s my competitive nature,” the 21-year-old Reynoldsburg, Ohio native said. “I’m glad where I landed. I’m in the right spot, right situation and I’m going to continue to move forward.”
Meanwhile, one of today’s 11-on-11 sessions was devoted to the two-minute drill. The two offensive units consisted of the players who would be on the field at the end of the second and fourth quarters Monday at Washington.
The first-team offensive line–center Kelvin Beachum not withstanding–worked with Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback and backup wide receivers. Cornerback Curtis Brown returned to practice and made his presence felt when he decked Larod Stephens-Howling on the first play, keeping the clock running, and then kept Jerricho Cotchery in bounds on the second play.
The 6’0”, 185-pound Brown told 93.7 the Fan’s Jeff Hathhorn that there is more urgency to his game since recovering from his ankle injury:
“[I'm] listening to my coaches and what they have to say and taking this game serious. It starts fast and it can end fast,” Brown said. “This is my third year and I feel like I have to do a big step up. Special teams is cool and everything, but I want to be more than just that, so I am taking a lot of focus to the football field.
“I gotta make this step, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
After Markus Wheaton made a nice catch in traffic, Gradkowski was intercepted by Josh Victorian. On the second series, Landry Jones completed a couple of passes–including one to Derek Moye–but then came up short on a what appeared to be a throw-away attempt which was picked off by rookie Shamarko Thomas.
The two interceptions were encouraging for cornerback William Gay, who knows the otherwise top-ranked Steelers defense needs to hang onto more interceptions.
“If we (the corners) can come up with just ten interceptions, the defense will be elite,” Gay said after practice.
Ben Roethlisberger again looked sharp in the team drills. At one point in the final session he hit Emmanuel Sanders in stride on a deep ball after Sanders have gotten past Victorian with a double-move.
A highlight of the special teams drills was Shaun Suisham ending the session with a 60-yard field goal.
Steelers field manager Pat Noone nearly became collateral damage when he was serving as quarterback for 5-on-4 offense-versus-defense line drills and was buried under a pile of lineman. Fortunately, Noone emerged relatively unscathed, and he declined Brett Keisel’s shoulder pads when Keisel tried to offer protection by sliding the pads over his head.