Wednesday practice report

Wednesday practice report

<b>LATROBE --</b> Ben Roethlisberger practiced for his first time at training camp and the media came out in droves. It's a story you'll see all night and tomorrow morning, particularly since tonight's practice downtown will end too late for new stories. <br><br>I admit I'll be doing such a story, so instead of delving too deeply into Roethlisberger's practice, we'll take more of a play-by-play approach right here and now in the practice report.

Kendrell Bell and Bobby Blizzard returned to practice, but Alonzo Jackson (back) and Nathaniel Adibi (dehydration) were held out. That meant Dedrick Roper was the first team ROLB and he had a fine practice, but we'll get to that later.

In the seven-on-seven passing drill, we first learned that Ricardo Colclough is the team's second-team nickel back behind Ike Taylor. The dime back is safety Mike Logan.

Chad Scott continued his solid camp by breaking up a touchdown pass headed toward Hines Ward in the corner of the end zone from Tommy Maddox. The offense's first touchdown was instead scored by fullback J.T. Wall, who caught a pass from Brian St. Pierre against the first-team defense. St. Pierre had a chance to throw a second touchdown pass (from the 20) but rookie Zamir Cobb dropped the ball after beating Troy Polamalu.

Roethlisberger, nicknamed "Rowdy" in college, moved under center and on his first pass overthrew an open Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone. Burress had beaten Willie Williams on the play. An aside, Williams appears to have the edge on Terry Fair for a possible fifth or sixth cornerback job, but when asked to stick with one man for too long Williams' age begins to show. Fair can still make the team if he knocks some of the rust off. Anyway, Roethlisberger went right back to Burress for a completion at the 1-yard line on the next play. His third pass was a dump-off to Duce Staley and the next was an incompletion, high and outside, in the flat. Scott broke up Ben's final pass of the drill in the end zone on what would've been a touchdown pass to Chris Doering.

The linemen joined the fray for the team scrimmage (in their morning shells) and Colclough had a rough start. He was beaten for a big gain by Lee Mays and then was blocked by a scrappy Antwaan Randle El to spring Staley for a big gain outside.

Roethlisberger was impressive in his turn. He threw a quick pop pass over the middle to rookie tight end Matt Kranchick, who took a lick at the same time the ball arrived. Kranchick held on to the ball as he hit the deck. On the next play, Roethlisberger hit Cobb over the middle, and in a repeat of the previous play Cobb took a licking but held on to the ball.

Maddox took his second turn under center and was sacked (at least the flag football version of a sack) on the first play by Roper, the undrafted rookie from Northwood, via Michigan State. A couple of plays later, Maddox lofted a deep ball to Randle El, but Chris Hope stepped in, jumped up and made a fine catch for the interception in center field. Maddox came back with a 25-yard strike to Randle El in front of Polamalu on the next play.

Roethlisberger ended practice with his second turn under center. In two plays, he threw a 15-yard sideline pass to Wall and an incompletion to Freddie Milons. The latter play may have been his most impressive. LDE Aaron Smith ran past right tackle Max Starks as if the rookie was standing still (he was) but "Rowdy" stepped up, then slid to the right and threw a bullet on the run, in traffic, 20 yards downfield to Milons, who let the pass clang off his chest.

In summation, Roethlisberger was hesitant at times, and that's to be expected, but as advertised he can really throw the pill while on the move. He's definitely, as you might have suspected, a keeper and potential franchise passer. Randle El and Hope are also players having very good camps in the early going.

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