Tec taking a TwitPic of Stan Twittering, while I was taking a TwitPic of Tec, taking a TwitPic of Stan Twittering...
It was 9:30 on Saturday morning. Friday was quite a circus, and we were all content to sleep in until at least 11. But then there came a familiar knock on the door.
It was Stan
Stan is A) a die hard Pens fan and member of the NYC Pens Meetup crew, B) Belarusian, and C) on his way to becoming a die hard Steeler fan. He's also an animal. Once he was inside, which took some coercion to get any of us out of our castle beds to let him in (yes, they were shaped like castles)...
...we started to get our lives together.
Then came another knock. Stan opened the door.
"Would you like any towels?,"
asked the cleaning lady.
And without batting an eye, Stan replied, "Are they terrible?"
That pretty much set the tone for the entire weekend.
I'll get right to the things I remember from practice on Saturday. After all, this is technically a Steelers blog. We had also planned on going to night practice on Friday night, but for whatever reason we unknowingly overlooked the fact that fans were coming from miles away just for that practice. And when we heard that there had been a line since 2PM (we didn't get to Latrobe/Greensburg until about 6), we decided to scrap it and just go do our thing instead.
Saturday was hot. And not the bearable kind. It felt like rain was imminent, mostly because the air tasted like water vapor. But also because of the darkening clouds above.
We arrived about an hour before practice started...From left to right - Tec's friend Bob, Stan, Tec and DYMilkshake.
Excitement was in the air...
As was the smell of 50 portable toilets hanging out at various locations around St. Vincent.
Before practice started, we took a walk down to the Great Hall. We had heard that the SIX Lombardi trophies were going to be at camp, and we were hoping they'd be displayed in the Great Hall for us to drool on. But alas, no such luck. I did get a sick photoshopped picture of last year's Super Bowl winning team, though, which I guess was cool. Seriously, it looked like the team was levitating above the turf at Heinz Field, which was my first hint.
Anyways, after the Great Hall, we walked back up towards the field to grab a spot.
We got temporarily derailed by the last of the players coming out of the weight room or wherever they come from at the top of the steps there. We saw Willie and Woodley, both without pads since they weren't practicing, and also Steely McBeam.
Then we assumed a position on the side of the far practice field, to be joined shortly thereafter by the defense, who lined up for drills right in front of us.
There was also this joke...
Wrong #7 there, jagoff. What's wrong with you, wearing an Elway shirt to Steelers camp?
But I digress.
From there, we watched the defensive line go through drills right in front of us, and the linebackers do their work another 40 yards or so down the field. Both looked solid, with the usual characters performing at their usually high level.
Tomlin also hung around for a while. Long enough for Stan to get his Ansel Adams on...
And here's what practice looked like at that point...
I'd give you individual thoughts, but really, like I said, it was pretty much the performance you'd expect out of the people you'd expect to get it from. Silverback looked like a beast. As did Timmons. Aaron Smith will haunt your nightmares. And Keisel and Snack looked strong. One thing to note was Ziggy Hood. First of all, he's big. Bigger than I expected. Definitely big enough to flex in at NT if Snack or Chris Hoke need a break. And he's fast. So, without having too high of expectations, I can't wait to see what kind of impact he's going to have this season.
After the defense trotted over to the main practice field, so did we, as we weren't going to miss out on what would be the most entertaining drills.
En route, we saw the one and only, Steely McBeam, in the flesh...
You can't tell from the picture, but that little kid practically ate the part of Steely McBeam's suit that was closest to his beam of steel (if you're picking up what I'm putting down)...
And once we had made it through the throngs of overheated Steeler fans, we parked ourselves right on the stairs of the bleachers, so as to maximize our viewing potential.
The team ran a few special teams drills, which for fans like us were kind of whatev. I mean it's interesting to watch, but it's only natural that we wanted to see them run some plays. The one highlight was Sepulveda floating a pass to Jeff Reed for a TD. In a real game, the pass would've been intercepted quicker than than you can say "Brett Favre," but in practice, it hung for about 20 minutes and then finally landed in Jeff Reed's arms, inches from the goal line.
Eventually they got down to business, though. And for the next hour or so, we watched as Big Ben, Chuck Batch and Dennis Dixon ran the show.
I'll give you the pictures first, then the "notes."
And now, a few thoughts:
- I'd be lying if I said that Ben was in pro bowl form. Of course, we have to bear in mind that it was still only a week into camp. But he underthrew a couple of balls and lofted one to Sweed that could've been easily intercepted (Sweed also could have gone up and gotten it, but didn't). He did connect with Santonio on a solid 20 yard (or so) out, though.
- #19 made an awesome diving catch on a Chuck Batch deep ball. I had no idea who he was, so DYMilkshake used the power of the internets to look him up. His name is Tyler Grisham, and he's an undrafted rookie out of Clemson. Maybe someone to watch, but on the next play he let a short out pass from Dennis Dixon hit him in the back. So who really knows.
- Hines was a beast, as per usual. On one play, Ben under threw him and Hines came back to wrestle the ball from the DB. Solid play and kind of what you'd expect out of a veteran leader like Hines.
- Business as usual for Santonio. Really, he ran well, made a couple of good catches, basically looked like he was more or less ready to go tomorrow.
- Shaun McDonald made an awesome one-handed grab. I can't remember who threw the ball, but I certainly didn't expect McDonald to come up with it like he did. It just goes to show you the value of a reliable (at least so far as we can tell) veteran WR.
- Heath Miller reiterated to us all why his nickname is Big Money, making a couple of solid catch and runs. Nothing you wouldn't expect from Heath. But then, I think we all expect that Heath is capable of an awful lot, so...yeah.
- Mendenhall had a couple of solid runs between the tackles. And by a couple, I literally mean, a couple. And given the reports from yesterday's practice, he's having some trouble on the goal line. Of course, Steelers defense isn't exactly the Bengals defense. But the Steelers drafted Mendenhall at least in large part for that purpose, and so obviously we were paying close attention to his ability to do so.
- Ryan Clark was wearing Mewelde Moore's number. No idea why. Maybe Moore changed numbers. Who knows. But it was awfully confusing to see #21 out there in the secondary.
And honestly, that was pretty much the extent of my recollection.
Really, it was your run-of-the-mill training camp practice, and it ended right on time, with rain threatening.
Aside from practice, we did a hell of a lot. I'm not going to go into gross detail or anything, but I will give you a summary of the most eventful happenings. With pictures to boot...
We have no idea who this dude was, but he was sitting in that chair off to the left of the picture when we pulled up to our room (#209). Stan snapped this mug shot of him while I was inside grabbing something. A few minutes later, I saw this dude run out of the BP where we were getting gas, just as everyone else was walking in. Greensburg's resident shade master, I guess.
I spotted rookie CB Keenan Lewis buying an air mattress at Wal-Mart. If I wasn't such a vag, I would've gone up and asked him to take a picture with me. But I wanted to respect his anonymity and didn't want to call attention to the fact that he was a player. Plus, I would've been a total queer about it. I don't get star struck for anyone but Steelers players. And that's a fact.
Stan is a huge Pens fan, but up until the trip, he didn't know anything about the Steelers. So obviously one of our first stops before practice was Champs Sports, where Stan was looking to secure himself a towel and a jersey...
He decided on Troy. And as Tec is insinuating there, we all felt it was an excellent choice.
On Saturday morning, er...afternoon, we hit Primanti Brothers in Greensburg to give both KB and Stan a taste of the local cuisine (since they had never had it). It was pretty much your standard trip to Primanti's, except as with almost every eatery we hit while in the area, we almost got kicked out for being idiots...
At least one of these two also doubled his meat, and thus his pleasure.
We decided it was only fair to put Sharkey's wings and Dino's wings head to head. Friday, it was Sharkey's. Saturday, Dino's. The verdict, as I believe Tecmo put it yesteday
, was "Each had pros and cons. I enjoyed the pros, because it meant I was eating a ton of wings."
I second that. When you're eating good wings, nothing else matters.
We ended our stead appropriately with a trip to Eat N' Park on the way out on Sunday. Everyone got the brunch bar except me. I went all in on a gourmet grilled cheese, which, coincidentally blew. Don't waste your money, the brunch bar was the way to go.