Defense wins goal-line drill
8-6-2011
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.

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.

“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.”

One thing that irks Tomlin during the season is pre-snap penalties and much to his pleasure none of that occurred during the goal-line drill.

“I like the fact that we didn’t have any pre-snap penalties,” said Tomlin. “I know that sounds like a little thing but offensively and defensively, not shooting yourself in the foot in that situation prior to the snap is big. Obviously there was some ebb-and-flow and good competition and contact, but that’s the nature of football and really how we want to play. I was pleased with them in general.”

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Tomlin on injuries: “Kind of a laundry list of training camp-like injuries and I’ll go down some of them. Of course, Maurkice Pouncey has a minor ankle sprain. Hopefully we’ll have him back here the first of next week or at some point. The normal guys that you know about have been down. Some new ones: Arnaz Battle has some back spasms, Limas Sweed has a sprained shoulder, Jonathan Scott has an ankle, Adam Mims had a tight hamstring and Donovan Warren had a hip flexor. Training camp-type things and these guys need to take advantage of their down time and stay ahead of the curve when given the opportunity. We’ll continue to press forward with the guys that are healthy and ready to work. I always have that mentality and those guys are taking advantage of reps and getting some conditioning at the same time.”

Tomlin also added that Ramon Foster, who left practice early, had a training camp injury he said is minor, as is the injury to Scott.

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The Steelers are off on Sunday and will return to practice on Monday with a 2:55 practice that is open to the public. The Steelers will also practice on Tuesday and Wednesday at 2:55.

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