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Quick slant: Steelers training camp

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Kneejerk reactions and hasty decisions from Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pa.

Air Arians?
On Wednesday, the Steelers' offense was having a day in a long stretch of 11-on-11 against the defense. Whether it was Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch or Brian St. Pierre pulling the trigger, plays were consistently coming open for chunks of yards on this hot August afternoon.

You don't want to turn a snapshot into a full-length movie but talking to guys who observe this team a lot, like Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette, the Arians offense has absolutely been embraced by the Steelers and that Roethlisberger is flourishing.

"I think we can return to the way we were in the playoffs on the run to the Super Bowl (in 2005-6)," Arians told me after practice. "We were putting points on the board and moving the ball with the run and pass. That is what we're still capable of doing. Last year I think was an aberration caused by a lot of things."

Arians, a bear of a guy with a straw hat, gray goatee and open attitude, is 54. This is his fourth go-round as an offensive coordinator having previously held the position with Mississippi State (1993-95), Alabama (1997) and the Browns (2001-03). He was Pittsburgh's receivers coach from 2004-06.

One of those receivers, Cedrick Wilson, popped off to Bouchette last week about the number of touches he was getting in practices. In the Hall of Fame Game against the Saints, Wilson caught four passes for 99 yards.

"Somebody's always going to be pouting cuz there ain't enough balls to go around but (the receivers) are a solid unit and there are four or five guys there that can all make plays," Arians said. "We're pleased with our top 15 or 20 guys. Our younger guys have a long way to go. Ben's playing really well and our pass protection unit is pretty solid right now, which is giving him an opportunity to perform. But we left a lot of points out on the field the other night. That was those young guys I'm talking about."


Rookie linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers' second-round pick out of Michigan (46 overall) is waaaaayyyyy ahead of injured first-rounder Lawrence Timmons (15th overall) in terms of making an impact. And even if Timmons, laid low by a groin injury that's rendered him all but useless since he was drafted, were healthy, Woodley might still be more NFL-ready.

The 6-2, 265-pounder has the dimensions and the fundamentals to excel in a 3-4 scheme, where linebackers need to be big and smart. Timmons, who's 18 months younger and 31 pounds lighter than Woodley, will have to show that he can set the edge properly in a 3-4 set if he's going to be productive in that scheme. If he can't, he's going to be a situational linebacker for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau until the Steelers incorporate some 4-3 schemes with defensive ends setting the edge.


As you all have to know by now, the Steelers named their balloon-headed mascot this week. He does by the name of McBeam. Steely McBeam. This was front-page news in the Post-Gazette and got huge play on the local newscasts.

After he finished some photo-ops, I asked Steely how his parents met.

"They met in a bar, had a few Iron Cities (the local brew), got some Primanti Brothers sandwiches, went up to the incline (overlooking the confluence of the three rivers) and the rest is history," he told me.

Not making it up, the dude in the suit did that off the top of his head.


If you stacked all the backup quarterbacks in the league, the Steelers' No. 2 Charlie Batch would have to be close to the top of the list. He's got such command and presence on the field and can still make every single throw, which he showed during Wednesday's practice when he hit wide receiver Walter Young on about a 20-yard out for a touchdown during a 7-on-7 drill. ... James Harrison, the fourth-year linebacker out of Kent State taking over for the departed Joey Porter has been impressive although he had a huge ice pack wrapped on his lower back after Wednesday's practice. That will be a situation the Steelers need to monitor going forward.

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