Steelers enjoying, not just enduring


By Teresa Varley

Latrobe, Pa - There was a renewed feeling of energy at practice on Monday afternoon after a morning that head coach Mike Tomlin classified as being in survival mode.

During the two-minute drill James Farrior and his defensive teammates encouraged the crowd to bring the noise, while the offense tried to no avail to quiet them.

"Hopefully there was a feeling that we may have crossed a threshold this afternoon where they were enjoying it and not enduring it," said Tomlin. "We are thriving.  Only time will tell and we will see what it's like tomorrow when we come out here and get us a couple in.  There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the afternoon.  The guys came and competed.

"That's what training camp is about.  You go through a process.  You break the group down, you break the bodies down if you will and you build them back up and get ready for action. Maybe it was a significant afternoon, we'll see."

Rookie quarterbacks Dennis Dixon and Mike Potts ran most of the two-minute drill and overall Tomlin was pleased with the job they did, but pointed out that Dixon does need to make some adjustments to the professional game after he scrambled a few time to get a first down.

"If we were in college football, that'd be great," said Tomlin. "In the National Football League, man, that clock is running. You know, those are the kind of growing pains that we are going through. It is great to get him in there with the first group surrounded by some guys that know what they are doing and get to work. I thought from that standpoint it was very good."

Maybe it was that enthusiasm all afternoon that prompted Tomlin to give his team the chance to end practice early. With about 25 minutes left in the session Tomlin gathered the group and called on kicker Jeff Reed to hit a 50-yard field goal. If he made it, practice is over. If not, they keep going.

He missed.

"It's only going to make me stronger," said Reed. "What made me mad is I don't like missing anything. I know these guys are tired because I am."

Tomlin gave Reed another chance, though. With just under 10 minutes Reed hit his field goal, sending a happy group of players off the field.

"At least I helped them out a little bit," said Reed. "I didn't get them out of 25 minutes of practice, but at least I gave them 10. I am glad I came through for them. It's a little frustrating I missed the first one.

"I strive for perfection. I think they were a little upset because they are tired and would love the break. They were excited and had total confidence in me. If you heard them the first time before I missed they were pretty excited because I was excited. Whenever I get an opportunity to help the team out that is my job. I was disappointed in the first one but glad the second one went through." Injury Update: The biggest news on the injury front was the return of guard Chris Kemoeatu to practice after spending the first week of camp on the physically unable to perform list. Day-to-day are James Harrison (groin), Limas Sweed (hamstring), Deshea Townsend (groin), Mike Humpal (hamstring), Dezmond Sherrod (neck), Anthony Trucks (back), Brett Keisel (groin) and Kendell Simmons (shoulder). Ben Roethlisberger was limited in practice, but looked like he was in mid-season form when he hit Heath Miller on a long pass. Marvel Smith missed practice as a coach's decision.

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