Offense rebounds in drills with pair of touchdowns
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer
LATROBE - After an opening day in which the offense looked out of sync and the defense dominant, the tables were turned a bit Tuesday at the Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College.
The offense, which struggled to complete passes Monday, scored a pair of touchdowns in two-minute situations Tuesday afternoon with the first and second-team units competing against each other.
Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp leading the first-team offense against its defensive counterparts.
After a sack on first down, he zipped a short wide receiver screen pass to Willie Reid and followed that up with a long third-down pass down the seam to Hines Ward to put the ball at the 24.
Roethlisberger threw incomplete on first down after being pressured by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, but connected with Reid again on a screen for a six-yard gain. Roethlisberger converted the first down with a quick slant to Reid, then spiked the ball with 22 seconds remaining.
On second down, he tossed a short pass to running back Mewelde Moore and was forced to spike the ball again, bringing up fourth down with nine seconds remaining.
The Steelers Pro Bowl quarterback then connected with Nate Washington in front of the goal posts in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with William Gay and James Farrior in coverage.
Not to be outdone, Charlie Batch completed 7-of-7 passes against the second-team defense, throwing to Heath Miller, Gerard Warren and Carey Davis before connecting twice with Dallas Baker to move inside the 20.
He then hit rookie Limas Sweed, a second-round pick, with a pass to move the ball inside the 10 and finished things off with a TD pass to Sweed on a fade pattern. Sweed beat cornerback Anthony Madison on the play.
"They gave it to us pretty good in the offseason," said Batch of the team's defense. "We wanted to come out here and set the tempo and we were able to do that with both offensive groups scoring touchdowns."
Sweed's big day
Sweed didn't just score a touchdown in the two-minute drill, the second-round draft pick had the crowd on hand at the afternoon practice applauding with a couple of long catches down the field, one of which was a diving grab.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said he expects those kind of plays from the 6-4, 220-pound rookie.
"He better, because we're giving him a bunch of reps," said Tomlin. "He's a young guy with a lot of energy. But he's got a ways to go. He's a guy who's capable of taking a lot of reps. He can run all day. We're giving him a bunch of opportunities and he took advantage of them."
Odds and end zones
Cornerback Bryant McFadden (groin), safety Anthony Smith (groin) did not practice Tuesday. ... Tomlin said there is no new information available about the team's three players on the Physically Unable to Perform list - safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring), guard Chris Kemoeatu (triceps) and nose tackle Casey Hampton (conditioning). ... The Steelers will practice twice today. The second practice (3 p.m.) is open to the public.