July 30, P.M. practice report

Trai Essex

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a little banged up just a few days into training camp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a little banged up just a few days into training camp.

James Farrior (groin), Mewelde Moore (illness) and Marvel Smith (groin) joined the list of walking wounded, missing the afternoon practice.

Wide receiver Limas Sweed, the team's second-round draft pick, and offensive tackle Jeremy Parquet both went down with cramps and had to leave practice early.

Sweed was taken off on a cart as a precaution.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has really been riding third-round pick Bruce Davis, a linebacker.

He was all over Davis in the morning practice, telling him to show him something in punt return practice as a rush man. Later, in one-on-one blocking drills with the tight ends, Tomlin had Davis retry his repetitions practically every time.

Davis missed all of the OTAs because his class hadn't graduated from UCLA yet and is behind. The coach obviously wants to get the rookie up to speed – now.

With Smith out of the lineup, Trai Essex moved over to left tackle with the first unit, with Darnell Stapleton replacing Essex at left guard.

Then, when Parquett went out, Essex also played some right guard with the second unit.

Essex also showed a little feistiness – and perhaps stupidity – tangling with linebacker James Harrison after a play. It was just some extra pushing and shoving, but Essex isn't backing down from anybody. Maybe he finally gets it.

Safety Ryan Clark made the play of the afternoon session, leaping high into the air to take a deep pass over the middle away from Sweed on a throw from Ben Roethlisberger.

Clark looks good and is playing well after a very difficult 2007 season.

In the first team session, running back Gary Russell displayed some nifty hands, spinning while on the run to catch a pass thrown behind him by Charlie Batch one-handed.

I was watching rookie linebacker Mike Humpal closely today in 9-on-7 and he looks like he knows what he's doing in coverage. He jumped a pass in the morning session for an interception and he looks pretty good dropping into coverage. He looks like a heady player.

Bryant McFadden and Anthony Smith continued to sit out with groin injuries.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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