LATROBE – Mike Tomlin put Jeff Reed on the hot seat yesterday and the kicker delivered.
“I feel like I had a game for real,” Reed said after his 42-yard field goal sent the team off the practice field early.
Tomlin told Reed the previous night that -- before the team scrimmage portion of practice -- he would send the kicker on the field with an opportunity to end practice if he made a field goal. If he missed, the team would continue practice.
Tomlin told Reed the plan early “just so he could sleep on it a little bit” and he asked him not to tell anyone. But word leaked to Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, who began cheering for Reed as he came out and made a 35-yarder and missed a 38-yarder.
Tomlin called the team up and told everyone his plan, and the team broke the huddle in excited anticipation. The players motioned to the fans to make noise and Chuck Noll Field rocked a bit before Reed banged the 42-yarder through the middle of the uprights.
“Actually it was worse that he did mention it because I thought about it all night last night and didn’t want to let my team down,” Reed said. “I’m glad it worked out for the best. The one right before it I mis-hit, so it was good it wasn’t on that one.”
What was Reed planning to do with the extra time off?
“All 10 minutes of the extra time?” he said. “I was done after that period anyway, so if anything it helps those guys. I think at this point we’re pretty tired anyway. We’re fighting through camp. Team (scrimmage) was coming up and any hits that occur, that’s the period they occur in.”
“He wore it well and he delivered for his teammates,” said Tomlin. “Really, that’s what training camp’s about. We’re pitting these guys against each other and coming out here and competing every day. I wanted to make sure that we provide that same opportunity for Jeff.”
Rookie punter Dan Sepulveda also delivered in the clutch. He held flawlessly for Reed’s kick.
“Jeff’s comfortable with him, so I guess I am,” Tomlin said of the Steelers’ new holder. “But he is doing well.”
Sepulveda isn’t punting much these days. The rookie who stood out in the spring with his booming punts has a fatigued left leg after punting 72 times the first day of training camp. Tomlin said that was the plan for breaking down Sepulveda’s leg and then rebuilding it for additional strength.
“Yes, and I want to see what he can handle,” Tomlin said. “He’s got to be a big guy for us, of course. You see what he’s capable of out here on a day-to-day basis, but we want to see him under adverse conditions and some of those are fatigue, when he’s leg-weary. That’s what the football season’s about. So getting to know him, he’s delivered a little bit in that area but we’ll continue with that process.”
Tuesday was a day to rest the veterans. Among those missing practice were Willie Parker, Chris Hoke and Travis Kirschke.
“It’s training camp, with bumps and bruises along the way,” Tomlin said. “We tried to take care of a few guys ... Yesterday we took a little bit off Verron Haynes. Today took a little bit off of Willie Parker -- make sure we keep our horses up and running.”
Outside linebackers Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison and Derek Rehage were joined on the injury list by rookie center Darnell Stapleton, who drew raves the previous day for his work in one-on-one drills.
“He hyperextended his knee (Monday),” Tomlin said. “I don’t think it’s anything major, but it may require a day or two before he can get back out there.”
LATE MONDAY MOVE
On Monday night, the Steelers released defensive back Harrison Smith and signed linebacker Marquis Cooper (6-3, 220), who played in two games with the team last year. The Steelers need Cooper because of the injuries to three of their outside linebackers.