Steelers July 29th notes

posted by Dale Lolley

I finally got to sit and watch - OK, stand and watch - an entire practice Sunday for the first time at this camp without having to hustle somewhere else or have things abbreviated by the threat of rain.

I saw some pretty good things out there.

Second-year linebacker Chris Carter looks physically bigger on the field and his functional strength is improved. Once just a guy who could beat you with his quick first step, Carter can now lock onto somebody and force them where he wants to go instead of the other way around.

He did this in the backs on tight ends drills against David Johnson, then handled Leonard Pope.

Carter told me after practice that he's added eight to 10 pounds of muscle.

Being that he's starting opposite LaMarr Woodley with both James Harrison and Jason Worilds on the PUP list, it was a good move for Carter.

@ The Steelers had a physical pads practice and had some players dinged up at times.

Starting running back Isaac Redman took a shot early and sat out a few plays, but the most serious injury was to cornerback Keenan Lewis, who suffered an injury to the AC joint in his right shoulder during a sideline collision.

He could be sidelined a while, with Cortez Allen moving into his starting spot.

Offensive linemen Trai Essex and David DeCastro also suffered minor ankle sprains, but are not expected to miss any time.

Tight end Heath Miller (ankle) and punter Jeremy Kapinos (back) were joined on the sidelines Sunday by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was given the day off by head coach Mike Tomlin rather than have him practice on field turf.

As for good news on the injury front, safety Damon Cromartie-Smith is expected to be activated from the PUP list on Wednesday. He has been out with a shoulder injury.

@ Funny moment of the day came when offensive tackle Max Starks was working with the other PUP list players on his conditioning.

After running back Rashard Mendenhall completed a cone drill with the ball in his hands, Starks did the same.

I told the guy next to me that if Starks had the ball in his hands on a play, something had gone terribly wrong.

Starks came to his senses on the next drill and declined the ball when Mendenhall offered it to him.

@ The catch of the day belonged to first-year receiver Jimmy Young.

Working against Ike Taylor, Young went to the ground down the sideline on the final play of practice to snare a perfect pass from Byron Leftwich, hanging onto the ball as his helmet popped off upon contact with the ground.

@ While Carter looked improved, both Johnson and Leonard Pope disappointed in the backs on tight ends drill.

The clear star was LaMarr Woodley, which is why they are paying him the big bucks. Woodley whipped everyone in sight.