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Spirited First Week Comes to A Close

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The Steelers ended their first week of training camp this afternoon. The conclusion of today's session marked the end of an intense week of competition between the offense and the defense. Yesterday's practice was a dog-fight between the two units, with harsh words and even punches exchanged. Willie Reid was mauled by safeties Ryan Clark and Anthony Smith soon after Tyrone Carter and Nate Washington wrapped up their fist-fight. I can't of course say 'I'm thrilled to hear our players are fighting', but at the same time, this has got to be considered superior to us just sleep walking through camp. Interesting to see our safeties in the middle of all the action, being that they played pretty soft football all last year in my opinion.

The mood was much lighter today, but yesterday, Hines Ward had some critical words of the late hits Willie Reid was receiving:

"Let us know if it's going to be full pads," Ward said. "But if it ain't? On one play Willie was slowing down and somebody hit him."

Ward summarized the action of the defense with two words: 'chicken shit'.

Ryan Clark admitted that perhaps he was a little wreckless:

"We know when it comes down to being tough, none of us can out-tough Hines," Clark said. "He's the toughest guy, probably, in the NFL, especially at his position. So when he says something and he comes over defending his squad, you respect it."
Interestingly enough, head coach Mike Tomlin let the extra-curriculars go on, choosing to let his team be emotional and physical with each other. He offered the following reasons, as well as a glowing review of Willie Reid:
"I know at times tempers are going to flare," Tomlin said. "Part of us building this football team is understanding and controlling our emotions, because they're going to flare in the fall. It's also showing your ability to take some blows and catch balls and bounce up. Willie Reid has proven to us that he doesn't have any fear. He's distinguishing himself because of some of the things that have happened. But we have to leave it on the grass. It can't get out of hand. It's a fine line, I know. We're attempting to walk it."

Good stuff. Color me intrigued. Share your thoughts and observations on training camp throughout the week.