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Brown taking advantage of opportunity

Second-year receiver Antonio Brown got more reps in the first week of training camp than he expected with Hines Ward on the PUP list to open camp and Emmanuel Sanders sidelined with a foot injury.

And he made sure to make all of those reps count, even with Ward back on the field as of Monday.

"This has been a golden opportunity for me and I have to take advantage of it," said Brown. "Getting an opportunity with Ben (Roethlisberger) and getting his confidence in me up is a key."

Brown said that he is comfortable where his game is as far as the physical standpoint, but he knows he has to work on other aspects.

"I want to get sharp mentally," said Brown. "Understanding the concepts and roles of the offense and what we are trying to do is a key. The more you understand the easier it is for you to go out and play.

"I am getting better and learning my assignments. I need to continue to work and improve. I want to gain the trust of my teammates, coaches and first my quarterback."

Ward's return to practice on Monday was something that meant a lot to his teammates.

"It was cool to see him," said running back Rashard Mendenhall. "It's good to have him back. It feels normal."

Ward worked with the receivers while he wasn't practicing, but there is nothing like watching a veteran on the field to really learn from him.

"He is a vet, a smart guy," said Brown. "You can learn the little things from him. He is a great guy to play with."

Another player who was back on the field Monday was center Maurkice Pouncey, who previously missed practice with an ankle injury.

"He is incredible," said Mendenhall of the young center. "He is a very smart player, athletic. He is not going to back down from anything. You can see it on film and every day in practice."

For the first few days he was at training camp Willie Colon would make the trek from the locker room, down the hill to the practice field without his helmet, jersey or pads as one of the free agents not able to practice until the CBA was ratified.

Last Thursday, though, he had all three in tow but left something else behind.

"I told myself I was going to leave all of my doubts and insecurities at the top of the hill," said Colon. "And I did."

Those insecurities stemmed from Thursday being the first time Colon took the field since the end of Steelers OTAs in 2010 when he injured his Achilles.

"That is what I was waiting for," said Colon. "I was out a whole year. I waited all year for this. There were a lot of dark nights a lot of hard days in the weight room.

"You get anxiety. You get nervous. For me it's about going through the grind, getting the rust off. Once you hear that clanking of helmets and pads, it's like live bullets. It felt good to push off and hit somebody other than a sled."

Colon went through the normal struggles last year of dealing with being on injured reserve. But instead of letting it eat away at him, he took a different approach, getting involved with the doing the scouting report each week for the offensive line.

"Kugs (Sean Kugler) asked me to do it," said Colon. "I did it every week and enjoyed it up to week six and then wanted to be on the field. That was him helping me stay involved.

"It now gives me more heightened awareness getting ready for games. I know what it takes to be a key factor for all of the guys. It was a chance for me to get more involved in the playbook and be there for the guys. Be a vocal leader at times. I was able to do that."

The Steelers helped the Westmoreland County Food Bank collect 483 pounds of food and $295 at the food drive they hosted at their night practice on Aug. 5.  Many needy families will benefit from the generosity of Steelers fans. Giant Eagle also matched the food donation, making it 966 pounds of food donated.

Quotable: Mendenhall on the young running backs in camp- "They are picking things up pretty well especially with the limited offseason time. To come in here and pick things up fast is good. As the preseason games come up we will see what they do in live action."

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