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hawaiiansteel
07-31-2011, 10:43 PM
Sunday Practice Report: Batch steals the show in popular backs-on-backers drill

Sun, Jul 31st, 2011
By Dale Grdnic

http://insidepittsburghsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Stelee4rs-camp-388x258.jpg

LATROBE, Pa. -- After two days running around in shorts and T-shirts, the Pittsburgh Steelers eagerly anticipated the initial training-camp practice in full gear Sunday afternoon at Saint Vincent College, and Coach Mike Tomlin opened with a fireworks display.

The popular backs-on-backers drill where linebackers rush a "quarterback'' in a one-on-one opportunity against a running back or tight end was the first session. The pass-rushers appear to have an edge in this drill, because the back has to determine which among two options is rushing and then stop them despite the backer basically getting a running start.

Rookie Baron Batch, the club's seventh-round pick this year, stole the show. The rookie running back lost his first match badly to James Farrior, as he whiffed after stepping up to stop the 15-year veteran. Batch's second attempt was a complete turnaround, as he stuffed fellow rookie Mario Harvey.

Then came a series of attempts against second-year outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who decided to bull-rush him instead of using his incredible athleticism. Batch jammed Worilds for no advancement on the opener and was even more impenetrable on the second try.

Batch also got a shot against James Harrison, among the premier pass-rushers in the NFL, and held his own despite a power move by Debo. Batch then had an easy stuff against Harvey, but Worilds got around him on his final attempt.

"I'm the type of guy, I don't have too many emotional highs or too many emotional lows,'' Batch said. "I just do my job and do it the best that I can.''

He did it better than most and got a post-practice hug from Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Tomlin, however, stopped way short of praising him, noting that "he's a rookie.'' Tomlin then provided further comment.

"Some licks were passed,'' Tomlin said. "In some instances, we were high technically. In some instances, we weren't violent enough, (so) some Day One-type things.''

At one point during the session, Tomlin told some young players that they might as well have done the drill Saturday. That was a non-contact practice.

Here are the remaining backs-on-backers attempts:

Rashard Mendenhall was destroyed by Lawrence Timmons.

Mendenhall did a little better against rookie Chris Carter.

Isaac Redman did decent job until he fell down against Harrison.

Jonathan Dwyer with a weak effort against LaMarr Woodley.

Dwyer was much better against Chris McCoy and pushed him aside.

Dwyer was buried by Baraka Atkins on his next attempt.

http://insidepittsburghsports.com/story ... ill/41030/ (http://insidepittsburghsports.com/story/sunday-practice-report-batch-steals-the-show-in-popular-backs-on-backers-drill/41030/)

Snatch98
07-31-2011, 10:55 PM
Timmons is going to be a monster this year and I'd bet on Woodley upping his production. I read a article some time ago about some differences in his training regime this year that gave him a lot more mobility in his hips. I know it's just backs on backers and it's early....can't wait for the season tho. Our defense is going to be scary with a offense to match.

SteelCrazy
07-31-2011, 11:09 PM
I remember Frank Summers impressing in camp too, but was also cut.

steelblood
07-31-2011, 11:45 PM
Now that we have resigned Moore, it will be hard for this kid to make the team. He still can, but he must show that he can backup Mendy and/or Moore AND play great special teams. I'm pulling for him as he appears to be an intelligent, hard working kid who has his head on right.

Chadman
07-31-2011, 11:47 PM
Anyone think Timmons looks like he's bulked up a bit?

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/2011_TC_82_239--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG

Chadman
07-31-2011, 11:49 PM
Now that we have resigned Moore, it will be hard for this kid to make the team. He still can, but he must show that he can backup Mendy and/or Moore AND play great special teams. I'm pulling for him as he appears to be an intelligent, hard working kid who has his head on right.

Agreed- Moore coming back seems to make it harder for Batch- not impossible, but harder. Maybe Moore can serve as the #2 RB, Redman as the short yardage guy & Batch as the 3rd down guy?

hawaiiansteel
08-01-2011, 03:14 AM
Batch can block, too

By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest


LATROBE, Pa. – Baron Batch caught a lot of passes during his college career at Texas Tech, 140 for 1,111 yards to be precise. And shortly after the Steelers picked him on the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft last April, Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert said, “Baron Batch has been an excellent running back in the Texas Tech offense, which is really like a third-down offense in the NFL. His ability as a receiver, to catch the ball, was impressive for us.”

Sunday marked the first day of practice in pads for the Steelers here, and Baron Batch was impressive again, but it had nothing to do with catching the football.

Coach Mike Tomlin was excited about what the day was going to hold, simply because he was going to get a chance to see his team in pads for the first time. Tomlin believes that hitting is a significant component of the sport, and so he has been known to set a tone with his choice of drills within a particular practice and when he conducts those drills during the practice.

And so it was that the first individual drill of Sunday’s afternoon session included backs-on-backers, and the Steelers’ seventh-round draft pick was one of the guys given an opportunity to show what he was about.

Batch did not disappoint.

Listed at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Batch was not undefeated in the drill, which requires a running back or tight end to identify a blitzing linebacker and then step up and stop his run to the quarterback. But he earned some respect from coaches and veterans on both sides of the ball.

In his first repetition, Batch got fooled by veteran James Farrior, who used a swim move to get around the attempted block. On his last repetition, he ducked his head and was beaten by Jason Worilds. But in between Batch flashed the kind of technique more likely to be seen from a savvy veteran and became a factor as a blocker. Twice in a row, Batch handled Worilds, an outside linebacker from Virginia Tech who was the team’s No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft. And then with the assembled players getting into the spirit of the drill, Tomlin gave Batch his shot at the big time.

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/_MG_9647--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG

Tomlin ordered Batch onto the field, moved him to the left side of the offensive formation and picked the opponent. “(Harrison’s) coming,” said Tomlin.

There would be no attempt at deception for this repetition. James Harrison came off the edge and Batch stepped up and held his own to the degree that Harrison patted the rookie on the helmet when the whistle blew to stop the play. It was impressive, even if Tomlin was not going to admit it during his post-practice media session.

“He’s a rookie,” said Tomlin when asked about his assessment of Batch’s performance.

About the drill overall, Tomlin said, “Some licks were passed. In some instances we were too high technically and in some instances we weren’t violent enough. Some (typical) day one-type stuff.”

Overall, though, Tomlin gave the general impression that he was somewhat satisfied with the afternoon’s session.

“Good day today, first day carrying our pads, a necessary step, of course, in the process,” said Tomlin. “We battled some heat and things of that nature, but it was just good general football for this time of year. We’re not going to make too many early judgments. We’ll look at the videotape and just continue forward.

“From an injury standpoint, we had some guys we held out: Marcus Gilbertwith a hamstring, Keenan Lewis with a heat-related illness, Limas Sweed with a hamstring, and Emmanuel Sanders with his foot. New to the list was Crezdon Butler who had some quad tightness. These are general training camp-type things and we’ll continue to push through those things, but that will provide opportunities for others. Of course, under the circumstances we have some young guys that could use those opportunities.”

STEELERS NOTES: Even though backs-on-backers attracted a lot of the attention, the hit of the afternoon was turned in by safety Ryan Clark on a running play during 11-on-11 toward the end of the practice. On a run by Rashard Mendenhall, Clark did what a coach might call “forcing the run,” but what actually transpired was that Clark leveled 319-pound offensive tackle Chris Scott … CB Bryant McFadden had an interception on a play in which he had good coverage on a deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace … Also included in the practice were a couple of turns of the two-minute offense. Roethlisberger directed his group into the end zone, with the big play being his own scramble down to the 16-yard line. The touchdown pass was a 2-yarder to Heath Miller.

http://burgh.us/6cy

Oviedo
08-01-2011, 07:55 AM
Timmons is going to be a monster this year and I'd bet on Woodley upping his production. I read a article some time ago about some differences in his training regime this year that gave him a lot more mobility in his hips. I know it's just backs on backers and it's early....can't wait for the season tho. Our defense is going to be scary with a offense to match.

He could be awesome, but I fear we will see a repeat of last season where he was not rushing the passer and instead dropping back in coverage to help the mediocre secondary. IMO if Timmons was on the outside he could be better than either Harrison or Woodley.

RuthlessBurgher
08-01-2011, 09:12 AM
Timmons is going to be a monster this year and I'd bet on Woodley upping his production. I read a article some time ago about some differences in his training regime this year that gave him a lot more mobility in his hips. I know it's just backs on backers and it's early....can't wait for the season tho. Our defense is going to be scary with a offense to match.

He could be awesome, but I fear we will see a repeat of last season where he was not rushing the passer and instead dropping back in coverage to help the mediocre secondary. IMO if Timmons was on the outside he could be better than either Harrison or Woodley.

Nope. Love Harrison and Woodley as up the field guys. Love Timmons as a sideline to sideline guy. Sending Timmons up the middle on a blitz occassionally completely throws off the offense. We're good here.

feltdizz
08-01-2011, 09:42 AM
Tomlin said violent... ohhh, here comes Goodell.

Steelhere10
08-01-2011, 01:44 PM
Anyone think Timmons looks like he's bulked up a bit?

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/2011_TC_82_239--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG
Sorry but thats not LTimmons. LOll I thinks that Jason Worilds

RuthlessBurgher
08-01-2011, 01:47 PM
Anyone think Timmons looks like he's bulked up a bit?

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/2011_TC_82_239--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG
Sorry but thats not LTimmons. LOll I thinks that Jason Worilds

You do realize that there are 2 people in that picture, right? :lol:

Steelhere10
08-01-2011, 02:10 PM
Anyone think Timmons looks like he's bulked up a bit?

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/2011_TC_82_239--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG
Sorry but thats not LTimmons. LOll I thinks that Jason Worilds

Oviedo
08-01-2011, 02:49 PM
Timmons is a freakin beast and he is only 25 and has just grown into his body.

NJ-STEELER
08-01-2011, 05:48 PM
the few times i remeber timmons coming from the outside, he didnt seem to do much,

i dont think thats his strong suit

Chadman
08-01-2011, 05:48 PM
Anyone think Timmons looks like he's bulked up a bit?

http://prod.static.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/imported/PIT/photos/clubimages/2011/07-July/2011_TC_82_239--nfl_medium_540_360.JPG
Sorry but thats not LTimmons. LOll I thinks that Jason Worilds

Dude- 97 is Worilds- 94 is Timmons..

Steelhere10
08-01-2011, 09:12 PM
Oops, sorry I was reading from my phone and it only shows JW but now I see LT. And yes he does look big :Agree ger.

Chadman
08-01-2011, 09:31 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol: :Beer :Cheers

Captain Lemming
08-01-2011, 10:02 PM
Timmons is a freakin beast and he is only 25 and has just grown into his body.

Ovi, I have a question for you.

Harrison routinely has double digit sacks AND triple digit tackles. He did it while being INJURED so badly he needed back surgery.

Do you have any idea how rare that is?

10 plus sacks, 100 plus total tackles, look it up and tell me who else in this league has done that ONCE in the past 5 years.

JH had FORTY MORE total tackles than the more heralded Clay Matthews jr. who was DPY runner up. JH had EXACTLY TWICE the tackles that Woodley had.

Clay Matthews and Woodley COMBINED had 110 tackles a opposed to Harrisons 100.

Nobody in this LEAGUE is as productive as JH is as an outside LB. Nobody.

ANYBODY can get 100 tackles as an inside guy. Sure Timmons can do that.
Outside guys in the 3-4 have to overpower a tackle to do that. Timmons would be DEVOURED in the attempt to stop sweeps in his direction.

3-4 "Outside LBs" double digit sacks and triple digit tackles almost NEVER happens. That is Lawrence Taylor play people.

Timmons will be a GREAT inside guy. Nobody in this league can do what Harrison does on the outside.

hawaiiansteel
08-02-2011, 05:14 PM
the latest post from Baron Batch's blog:


MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011

Update!

The past week has been a whirlwind since the move from Texas to Pittsburgh. This has probably been one of the craziest, busiest, and most surreal weeks I have ever experienced. I seriously love my job! Oh and by the way I am no longer unemployed…but now I have to start paying taxes (insert sad face here). Every day I wake up I just smile and think to myself “I’m really getting to do this for a living!” I love it.

Right now I am in Latrobe Pennsylvania for our training camp at the small college of Saint Vincent. Its ironic because I never had to stay in the dorms while I was in college or really study that much for that matter, but now I am in my little dorm room every chance I can get studying my playbook more than ever. Graduating college didn’t end my days of being a student. Now I’m just a student of a game that over the past week I now realize I didn’t know as much about as I previously thought. I guess the first step to being a great student is realizing that you don’t know it all, and I for sure have a lot to learn. The biggest difference I have realized from college to the pros has been that it’s so much more of a mental game now and technique is key. In college you could get by with talent but not here, everyone is good. I really want to fill everyone in on a lot more of what’s been going on but honestly I don’t have the time to sit down and designate hours of time like I usually do to write, so I will make a quick list of what my last week has been like and the moments that I will never forget.

1.) Putting on an NFL helmet for the first time

2.) The night before the first day of camp not being able to sleep because I was too excited.

3.) Signing my contract and thinking “this is a big step to a bigger dream” and yes I kept the pen I signed with.

4.) Not being unemployed anymore

5.) Realizing I have to pay taxes now (bummer)

6.) Learning how much certain fines are and thinking “holy cow that’s more than what my scholarship checks were each month in college”

7.) Getting my playbook and thinking “this is bigger than any textbook I had in college”

8.) Being super lost the first day of practice

9.) Having to sing in front of the team at dinner after practice (yes I busted out the Temptations, specifically the song Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)

10.) Studying more now than I did when I was in High School and College combined. Making tiny notecards of everything like when I was in Elementary School learning my times tables

http://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae201/bbatch25/IMG_0468-2.jpghttp://i972.photobucket.com/albums/ae201/bbatch25/IMG_0459-1.jpg

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
08-03-2011, 09:50 AM
Its ironic because I never had to stay in the dorms while I was in college or really study that much for that matter

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Ah......the college life of an athlete.

RuthlessBurgher
08-03-2011, 10:22 AM
Having to sing in front of the team at dinner after practice (yes I busted out the Temptations, specifically the song Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)

Dude, the name of the song is "I Can't Help Myself" and it was done by the Four Tops, not the Temptations. :nono

flippy
08-03-2011, 10:56 AM
Timmons will be a GREAT inside guy. Nobody in this league can do what Harrison does on the outside.

Harrison's a 1 of a kind. He does it all and is a machine when it comes down to pursuing the ball carrier and causing fumbles.

And Timmons would never be Harrison on the outside, but he would bring a different skill set. He's a little quicker and hits a little harder. And if Timmons was coming after a QB all day instead of dropping into coverage, it would put the fear of God into OCs and QBs with the threat of Timmons literally hurting the QB with a hit.

We get a lot of sacks when we line Timmons outside of Harrison or Woodley and send him off the edge. And it's usually Timmons freeing up someone else to get the sack.

All that said, I think Timmons is too much of a weapon to send him after the QB every play. He can play any LB position and drop into coverage like a S. We should allow Lebeau to move him around as he sees fit from play to play. No other LB has his athleticism, so we should use it to our advantage.

If Timmons reaches his potential, this defense will become less dependent on Troy. And this could bode well for our long term future beyond Troy's career.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
08-03-2011, 12:24 PM
And Timmons would never be Harrison on the outside, but he would bring a different skill set. He's a little quicker and hits a little harder. And if Timmons was coming after a QB all day instead of dropping into coverage, it would put the fear of God into OCs and QBs with the threat of Timmons literally hurting the QB with a hit.

One major difference between the two is that Timmons often gets into the backfield with an open shot at the QB and whiffs. Harrison is a heat seeking missile. He gets the QB in his sites and attacks both the ball and the player. There is not a player in the league who you would rather have with an open path to the QB.

hawaiiansteel
08-06-2011, 10:59 PM
Defense wins goal-line drill

By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com


It’s always a highlight of camp and when Coach Mike Tomlin saw some of the on-field guests were leaving the field near the end of practice, before the goal-line drill was about to begin, he told them to stay.

After all, having an audience for it makes it all that more fun. And the Steelers put on a show for them on both sides of the ball.

With NFL officials still on hand, Tomlin put the decision-making in their hands, happy to not be the one making the calls.

Second-year back Jonathan Dwyer got the call first, but was stopped on his first shot by Ryan Mundy and LaMarr Woodley. He wasn’t deterred, coming back strong and pounding it up the middle for a touchdown past Will Allen and Lawrence Timmons.

http://photos.triblive.com/photos/PITT/1295326/37045349E.jpg

Rookie Baron Batch was up next, and he too was stopped, this time by Larry Foote. But he rebounded, scoring easily on the right side. Batch then gave the offense a 3-2 lead when he punched it up the middle on the next play for his second touchdown.

“I just want to see guys I don’t know about,” said Tomlin. “I know about Rashard Mendenhall. I know about Isaac Redman and I know less about the others, so they get the call.”

The defense didn’t want the young rookie to be the star of the show, and it was first-year linebacker Mortty Ivy who made sure he wasn’t when he drilled Batch for the stop.

“I knew it was him,” said Ivy. “That is what the coaches like. They want to see guys compete against each other. Right now he is showing a lot. He is doing a lot of great things and the coaches love it. We just have to make plays on it. This is a team game. I give it up to my up-front guys. Guys made the penetration. I just contributed. This is a team game.”

Ivy hit Batch so hard his helmet popped off in the process.

“I have to get more air in my helmet,” said Ivy. “No dizziness, no problems. It just popped off. Chin strap came undone. But that’s part of football.”

The offense had one final shot at coming away winners, but rookie John Clay but came up short and the defense won 4-3, even though Tomlin wasn’t about anointing a winner.

http://photos.triblive.com/photos/PITT/1295326/37110059E.jpg

“We’re all winners. We’re all losers too,” said Tomlin. “We had some great work today. Our special category and point of emphasis in terms of situational football was short yardage and goal-line. Just as important as executing in those areas is talking about the unwritten rules of the game in those areas; hard counts and so forth. We executed a little backed up offense just continuing with our process. I was pleased with the energy and work of the group. By no means are we a finished product, but that’s why we’re here. We’ll continue to do that.”

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 5bfececdc6 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Defense-wins-goal-line-drill/7e83e184-c199-4c97-adcd-1a5bfececdc6)

fordfixer
08-07-2011, 02:12 AM
Batch, Ivy put on show during goal-line drills
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 7, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 50418.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_750418.html)

Mortty Ivy braced for the cutback that never came, and Baron Batch practically walked into the end zone.

"It was a mistake by me," said Ivy, a Steelers inside linebacker.

One for which Batch ultimately paid. Two plays later during goal-line drills, Ivy stopped Batch short of the end zone, hitting the rookie running back with such force that his own helmet popped off.

That wallop highlighted the most anticipated drill of training camp and allowed the defense to claim victory at the conclusion of practice Saturday on a muggy day at St. Vincent College.

Batch scored twice, and Jonathan Dwyer once during the drill in which the ball is placed halfway between the 1- and 2-yard lines.

The defense stopped the offense four times, with rookie running back John Clay getting stuffed on the deciding play of the series.

"I just want to see guys I don't know about. I know Rashard Mendenhall. I know Isaac Redman," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said when asked about his running back rotation for the goal-line drill. "I know less about the others, so they get the call."

Ivy, a former West Virginia and Gateway High star, answered the call after Batch blew by him — and after receiving a chiding from Tomlin.

He promptly made a textbook hit on Batch, who has been one of the surprises of training camp, stopping the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder in his tracks when a touchdown would have given the offense victory.

"That's what coaches like: They want to see guys compete against one another," the 6-1, 239-pound Ivy said. "Right now (Batch is) showing a lot. He's doing a lot of great things."

Ivy is showing a knack for making the big hit, something he hopes will translate into a spot on the Steelers' 53-man roster.

"It's what you do on the field on game days," said Ivy, who spent part of last season on the Carolina Panthers' roster but didn't play in any games.

The Steelers play their first preseason game Friday when they visit the Washington Redskins.

Timmons staying put?

Lawrence Timmons' versatility allows him to play inside and outside linebacker. The Steelers, though, are hoping he plays exclusively at right inside linebacker this season.

Timmons has moved to outside linebacker when injury necessitates it, but linebackers coach Keith Butler is hoping Jason Worilds will emerge to fill that role this season.

"I'd rather keep (Lawrence) at inside linebacker and let him get better and better at that," Butler said. "Hopefully, Jason takes that option off the field for us."

The Steelers took Worilds in the second round of the 2010 draft, but he played mostly on special teams as a rookie. The 6-2, 265-pounder registered two sacks last season, and the Steelers are hoping he is ready for a more prominent role.

"He's got a God-given ability to burst to the ball, but he doesn't use it all the time, and it's my job to get him to use it," Butler said. "A little bit of it is (understanding the defense), and some of it is just a sense of urgency. I've got to change that in him a little bit."

The right approach

It is too early to evaluate the rookies, but Aaron Smith doled out praise Saturday to fellow defensive end Cameron Heyward, the Steelers' first-round draft pick this year.

"He reminds me a lot of Ziggy (Hood) with his work ethic and the way he approaches practice each and every day," Smith said. "He wants to learn the game."

Smith has been a mentor to Hood since the Steelers made the latter a first-round pick in 2009. Smith is the second-longest tenured Steeler.

Inside the ropes

>> The Steelers have to hope they only received a scare Saturday when starting left tackle Jonathan Scott and right guard Ramon Foster were carted off the practice field with ankle and foot injuries, respectively. Scott's injury is potentially troublesome because his backup at left tackle, Tony Hills, has minimal NFL experience at the position. Tomlin characterized the injuries as typical training camp ailments. When asked if they are considered minor injuries, he said, "to my knowledge, yes."

>> Tyler Grisham made a nice grab over the middle and on the next play caught a pass as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's "hot" read following a blitz. Terrence McCrae, a Connellsville High graduate, caught a pass in front of cornerback William Gay. Wes Lyons, a Woodland Hills and West Virginia product, hauled in a pass from quarterback Byron Leftwich on a deep out. The aforementioned receivers are vying for a roster spot. So is Limas Sweed, but the Steelers' second-round pick in 2008 hasn't been able to show much in camp because of injuries. Sweed, who had been hampered by a hamstring problem, sprained his shoulder early in practice yesterday, ending his day. If Tomlin is frustrated about Sweed' inability to stay healthy, he isn't saying. "I worry about those that are working," Tomlin said, "not those that aren't."

>> Outside linebacker James Harrison and nose tackle Casey Hampton were given the day off. Four of the Steelers' cornerbacks didn't practice, including starter Bryant McFadden (hamstring). Crezdon Butler and rookies Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen also didn't practice, as they are working through leg injuries, while Donovan Warren was out with a hip flexor. Receiver Arnaz Battle (back spasm) also was held out of drills. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey didn't practice because of an ankle sprain that Tomlin called "minor." Pouncey, Tomlin indicated, could practice as early as Monday. The team does not practice Sunday.

ROOKIE WATCH

MIGUEL CHAVIS

Position: Defensive end

Measurable: 6-foot-5, 285 pounds

College: Clemson, signed as an undrafted free agent

Competition: It's stiff, considering Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward are locks to make the 53-man roster. The Steelers may only open the season with four defensive ends, as nose tackle Chris Hoke can play the position if the team gets in a bind. Chavis, who went undrafted after battling several injuries his senior season, is likely fighting for a spot on the practice squad, but he has shown promise through the first part of camp.

Camp moment: Chavis turned some heads during the lineman-on-lineman drill Friday night at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Nicknamed "Conan" because of his long hair and size, Chavis flattened guard Keith Williams, the Steelers' sixth-round pick in April. Williams is listed at 6-5, 310 pounds, and he is been solid at camp, making the pancake that Chavis executed even more impressive.

fordfixer
08-08-2011, 01:48 AM
Batch, Clay hoping to join Steelers backfield

By WILL GRAVES,
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=A ... dbackfield (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AjJl6_3iJM2eCugYnXHJ63dDubYF?slug=ap-steelers-crowdedbackfield)

LATROBE, Pa. (AP)—John Clay(notes) kept waiting for the phone to ring during the NFL Draft in April.

One round passed. Then a day. Then three.

The former Wisconsin running back never saw his name pop up on the ticker through seven excruciating rounds and 224 picks.

He didn’t anticipate not getting selected, not after running for more than 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin, his 6-foot-1, 248-pound frame serving as a battering ram behind the team’s massive offensive line.

He left school a year early, figuring he was a lock. He wasn’t and going undrafted hurt. In a way, Clay says it may be the best thing that happened to his career.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t be in camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the “perfect” place for him to prove the doubters wrong.

“You definitely want to use that as motivation,” Clay said. “You want to show that you can play at this level.”

Playing in the NFL and staying in the NFL are two different things. The defending AFC champions appear to be just about set at running back. Rashard Mendenhall(notes) is firmly entrenched at the top after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Isaac Redman(notes) and third-down specialist Mewelde Moore(notes) are next.

After that, things get murky. At 5-11 and 235 lbs., second-year man Jonathan Dwyer(notes) would seem to fit the mold of the “big” back, yet didn’t exactly distinguish himself last year.

There appears to be room for a rookie to make some headway, although the newcomer creating the biggest buzz during the first week of camp isn’t Clay but Baron Batch(notes).

Though Batch’s college numbers were ordinary next to Clay’s, he did manage to get drafted. The Steelers chose Batch in the final round, intrigued by his versatility.

Batch ran for 816 yards and five touchdowns last year while adding 32 receptions and three more scores. He’s comfortable operating in a complicated offense thanks to former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach’s(notes) complex attack.

He’s held his own while competing in the “backs on backers” drill that pits a running back against a hard-charging linebacker coming on the blitz.

Still, Batch isn’t exactly ready to call himself the rookie to beat. Sure, he’s looked good in one-on-one drills. However, the game is played with Batch and 10 teammates working as a unit. He knows he’s not as sharp as he needs to be when it comes to learning where to go and when to get there.

“You guys see that stuff, `God, he did good in backs on backers’ but to me stuff like that doesn’t really matter much because if I get in team and I miss on a blitz, that’s all it takes to get a quarterback hurt,” Batch said.

Batch understands that because of his size—he’s just 210 pounds and he played in a system in college that relied heavily on throwing the ball—he’s considered soft.

“The fans that saw me in college, they would say, `He runs hard, he’s tough,”’ Batch said. “I’m just going to show (the Steelers) what they saw when they drafted me.”

What the coaches have seen from Batch is an ability to stick his nose in uncomfortable places. He’s been eager to contribute on special teams and aggressively worked between the tackles during a goal-line competition on Saturday.

The exercise pits the goal-line offense against the goal-line defense. The offense gets a point if it scores a touchdown from two yards out. The defense gets a point if it stops the ball short of the end zone.

Coach Mike Tomlin likes to play the series best-of-seven. Batch and Clay both had opportunities to show what they can do.

Batch made it to the end zone at least once, while Clay was stuffed at the doorstep on the final play.

It was the “welcome to the NFL” moment for both.

Though he didn’t come through on the last snap, in truth there was little room for him to maneuver. Clay, who ran a painfully slow 4.8 40-yard dash before the draft, has displayed nimble feet at times.

He spent the NFL lockout trying to get into “football shape,” and though he hasn’t lost weight, he’d like to think he’s redistributed it a little better.

Clay understands he’ll never be confused with a breakaway back. He’s hoping to get the tough yards he’s always gotten.

His teammates want to see it happen. Moore said he’s hoping for a glimpse of “that Wisconsin style of running” from Clay.

“You know, I just want to pound it, pound it, pound it and get that home run in the end,” Clay said. “If I keep working at it, I’ll get a shot.”