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Camp Confidential: Sizing Up an Interesting First Week From Latrobe

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Lookey here, an exclusive post from Dale Lolley for us here at Behind the Steel Curtain. Many thanks to Dale for agreeing to provide us with unique insights and access each week until the start of the 2011 NFL season. -Michael B.-


By Dale Lolley

LATROBE - One week into the Steelers' 2011 season, we've seen plenty of action coming out of the team's training camp at Saint Vincent College.

We've seen dozens of signings, a flirtation with Plaxico Burress, injuries and a host of other moves in what has been the perhaps busiest training camp in team history.

But there is also some football taking place on the field. Sure, it's been glorified OTAs because many of the team's veteran players have been unable to practice.

And there have been some young standouts in the first week. I'll touch on a few of them:

© Rookie running back Baron Batch has the look of an NFL running back. There has to be something that I'm not seeing with Batch because he has good size, 5-10, 210, is shifty in the hole, and showed his power in the one-on-one blocking drills, taking James Harrison to a standstill.

How in the world did this guy last until the seventh round of the draft?

OK, his top-end speed isn't great and he played in an unconventional offense that let him go over 20 carries just once last season. That game also happened to be his only 100-yards game, against Missouri.

Unless he turns out to be a fumbler, the kid is a keeper.

© Rookie linebacker Chris Carter is listed at 6-1, 248 pounds, but if he's 248 pounds right now, I'd be shocked.

The former Fresno State defensive end looks like a safety and lacks the strength to hold up in the run game. He does show some explosive quickness as a pass rusher, though.

© I've been very impressed with sixth-round pick Keith Williams, a 6-5, 310-pound guard from Nebraska.

He got thrown into the starting line with Chris Kemoeatu on the PUP list and Doug Legursky being unable to practice for the first week because of the CBA rules.

Williams has taken full advantage of his opportunity. Williams looks very strong and has a nasty streak. If Williams gets his hands on you, you're going for a ride and it's not going to be pretty. He caught Larry Foote on a blitz early in the week and drove the linebacker into the ground.

The only downside I've seen at this point is that he tends to lose his footing at times.

© While Williams has taken advantage of his opportunity, second-round pick Marcus Gilbert has been watching due to a hamstring injury. That's too bad because he could have used the extra work the week with many veterans would have provided him.

© First-year tight end Jamie McCoy has been the best, in my opinion, of the young players brought in at that position. He's a tenacious blocker.

The team also likes massive Wesyle Saunders and his 6-5, 270-pound frame, but at 240 pounds, McCoy has looked like the better blocker.

© Mike Tomlin has been riding second-year linebacker Jason Worilds all over the field.

He's pushing Worilds to take the next step and become the team's top backup outside linebacker.

I spoke to Worilds about that this week and he's stepping up to the challenge. He'd better. The team is counting on him to fill that role and become a star on special teams as well - especially with veterans Anthony Madison and Keyaron Fox now gone.