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Minicamp underway for Steelers

Posted Jun 11, 2013

The Steelers three-day minicamp began on Tuesday, an extension of the team’s OTAs with players in shorts and no pads, but productive nonetheless.

“It was a good work day for us,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “Really, what you describe the work as is irrelevant. We’ve done similar things here that we’ve done the majority of the offseason. It’s good to continue with the growing process individually and collectively.

“We did some nice things, situational football, two-minute and third-downs. We will continue to do similar things for the remainder of the week in an effort to be prepared and make the best of the opportunity to get better.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t able to practice after having his right knee “cleaned up” last week by Dr. Jim Bradley. Roethlisberger watched from the sidelines, but is confident he will be fine for training camp.

“It feels great,” said Roethlisberger. “I saw Dr. Bradley (Tuesday) morning and he was pleasantly surprised with the range of motion and where we are and the swelling. It feels great. I’ve been off crutches for a couple of days now. I’m moving around good. I think I could play Sunday if I had to.

“My knee is in great shape. They took care of the little problem. It had been bothering me a little last year, and we decided now is the time to take care of it.”

With Roethlisberger out for minicamp Bruce Gradkowski is getting a lot more work at quarterback, giving him a chance to work with the first team and in situational football.

“Bruce did a nice job, particularly in two-minute and in other areas,” said Tomlin. “We work with the guys that are working, whether it’s spring or fall. My mentality in regards to that won’t change.”

* * *

Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell knows he has his work cut out for him to see quality playing time this season, but he is willing to do whatever it takes.

“I want to come in here and try and compete and win games,” said Bell. “We have a lot of talent in the backfield. All I can do is go out there and compete.

“I am ready for whatever. I just want to go out there and do the best that I can. I don’t want to set any expectations for anyone. I just want to do the best that I can.”

One of the keys for Bell is to get a good understanding of the offense between now and the start of training camp so he will be able to go full speed then. He will have plenty of time between the end of minicamp on Thursday and the first training camp practice on July 27 to do just that.

“It’s just the ability to grasp the entire offense, the entire package, from a protection standpoint, ball security, running the right route on pass plays,” said running backs coach Kirby Wilson. “We are looking for all phases from him in order to be able to compete at the highest level. The fundamentals have to be there.

“He wants to learn the offense so he has a chance to compete for a job, so they know what to do and how to do it.”

Wilson said one of the toughest things for rookies to learn is pass protection, and it’s something he will have work on if he wants to get on the field.

“That’s any running back,” said Wilson. “You have to be able to protect the quarterback or you won’t play. That’s not just in Pittsburgh. That’s in every NFL city.

“There is so much more technique involved. You are going against skilled pass rushers, as opposed to guys in college that are just rushing. For these guys, it’s an art. There are counter moves, and these guys are very explosive that rush the passer in the NFL.”

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