- Two dogs, one bone: When the Steelers took the field for their first practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex this week, Coty Sensabaugh saw more work with the starting defense than he had previously, when the other corners, Artie Burns and Stephon Tuitt, were healthy. Sensabaugh, who signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, is fighting for the starting job over Cockrell, and it could be a situation where according to Coach Mike Tomlin there are 'two dogs fighting for one bone.'
"It's shaping up to be that. We'll see," said Tomlin. "I know that Coty has done enough to merit consideration and that is what this process is about."
Tomlin likes what he has seen from Sensabaugh, both his physical play and mental approach.
"He has proven to be a savvy veteran," said Tomlin. "He doesn't get got twice by similar concepts. He is generally close. You can tell his snap experience has been used for good. His above the neck game is very strong. Those are assets to him in terms of how he performs."
- Cornering the market: The battle with Sensabaugh and Cockrell isn't the only one in the secondary. Mike Hilton is showing a lot as he is battling for a roster spot, and rookie Cameron Sutton is a player who has been sidelined for most of training camp, but is expected to play against the Colts on Saturday. Tomlin also likes the growth he has seen from Burns as he enters his second season.
"We have had some good production from guys," said Tomlin. "I have seen some growth in individuals. Artie Burns for instance, you see the maturation process from year one to year two. I like the way he is working on a day to day basis.
"We have gotten acclimated to some new guys who are proving to be guys who might be able to help us, guys like Sensabaugh, Hilton. We have also had a number of guys who have missed a substantial amount of time due to injury. There is some urgency there. Largely though it's been positive. Still need to get to know some of these guys. I haven't seen enough of Cam Sutton. It's a big week for him."
Tomlin also said he looks forward to seeing what Dashaun Phillips brings to the table, after they traded for him this week.
"Excited to get the new guy into the fold and maybe get a chance to see what he is capable of in a short period of time," said Tomlin. "I know he is an NFL capable player. He has played in this league. He has played against us. All of those things were attractive. We'll judge him in terms of what we can do with him based on what he does once he gets here. That is the only thing that is appropriate to do."
It's paying off: With time comes growth and for Anthony Chickillo, he just continues to grow and develop every time he takes the field, to the point where teammates have said he has become a complete pass rusher.
"He is just growing as a professional and that is reasonable to expect going into year three," said Tomlin. "When we drafted him he was going through a position change and a body change, not only in terms of growing and developing as a linebacker, but quite frankly the things that we asked him to do on special teams were foreign to him because he was a defensive lineman in college. His adjustment has not been an easy one on a lot of fronts. He has done a nice job with that and I think you are just seeing the fruit of what has been a three-year body of work."