Preparing for their first test

The Steelers were back to work on Wednesday after a day off, and Coach Mike Tomlin said they were preparing for the "test" they have later this week, in the form of the first preseason game of the year against the New York Giants.

"I like the overall effort and enthusiasm," said Tomlin. "We're not a finished product. We need to start working toward that. We will have a test or quiz of some kind here at the end of the week in the form of the New York Giants, so we need to work diligently and make the best of the next few days in preparation for that."

Tomlin will get his first look at this year's rookie class, and is looking forward to seeing how they react in game situations.

"Just how they deal with the failures," said Tomlin. "When you get in the stadium-like setting, that is one of the things that we don't know about these guys at this point. Do they wear failures? Are they capable of moving on? Do they stack negative play on top of negative play? Are they capable of moving past it?

"That is one of the critical things that you don't know about young guys until you get in stadiums, and probably one of the most things that we are eagerly waiting in regards to some of them."

Tight end Matt Spaeth left practice early with an ankle injury, but Tomlin didn't have any specifics on it after practice.

With Heath Miller still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after undergoing ACL surgery, and Spaeth injured in practice on Wednesday, second-year tight end David Paulson is getting a lot more snaps, allowing him to continue to learn.

"More reps give you more opportunity to get better," said Paulson. "That is giving me more chances to improve and learn. Every down I am in there is another opportunity to learn."

Paulson said he has grown a lot since his rookie year, with being more comfortable in the offense the biggest advantage in year two.

"Being able to go out and play instead of trying to think through things on every play is big," said Paulson. "I can go out and react and not be thinking through things so I can play full speed. Understanding the offense, the concept, and how I fit into it helps a lot."

The Steelers will hold an open practice on Thursday at 2:55 p.m. at St. Vincent College. Parking lots and the UPMC Steelers Experience open at 12 noon. The Steelers will not practice on Friday, and play the New York Giants in the preseason opener on Saturday, Aug. 10 at Heinz Field.

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