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Late For Work 8/14: Steelers Fight Goes Beyond The Norm

Thompson has edge over Streeter? CB Williams’ weakness. Reed sneaks into offensive huddle.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 at 9:11 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Steelers Fight Goes Beyond The Norm

A few scuffles during training camp are a pretty regular occurrence in the NFL, especially since players endure regular three-hour practices in the intense heat of the sun.

Late For Work Ike Taylor Antonio Brown FightBut the fight between wide receiver Antonio Brown and cornerback Ike Taylor – for the second time at Steelers training camp – was not considered “normal.”

“[T]his went beyond the usual training-camp tussle,” wrote Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The altercation began when Taylor tried to wrestle a ball away from Brown in the end zone, according to the report. They fought for the ball on the ground, and when they eventually got back on their feet, Brown threw a punch at Taylor.

Several teammates intervened, but it didn’t stop there.

A “spirited” goal-line drill toward the end of practice seemed to further incite the players, especially safety Ryan Clark and Taylor.

Once practice concluded, Taylor went after Brown in the middle of the field and the players had to be separated again, this time even by Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert.

The teammates eventually walked off the field together with Taylor holding an ice pack to his forehead.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the Sunday fight.

“These guys understand what we’re working for, and when we step into stadiums, we’re together,” Tomlin said. “When you fight your brother, sometimes, it gets a little heated … the guys understand what that’s about, and they’ll leave it on the grass where it should be.”

But he won’t be able to give the same speech if a third brawl occurs, says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

“If a third altercation occurs between Brown and Taylor, head coach Mike Tomlin can’t chalk it up to ‘those things happen’ like he did Sunday,” wrote the AFC North blogger. “Brown and Taylor are the best at their positions on this team. Tomlin can’t allow them to keep butting heads (sorry, Chad Johnson).”

Does Thompson Have Edge Over Streeter?

It’s unclear how many receivers the Ravens will keep on the roster in 2012.

If they keep six like they did the two last seasons, that final spot could come down to undrafted rookie free agent Deonte Thompson and sixth-round draft pick Tommy Streeter. (David Reed could also be in the mix once he returns from an ACL injury.)

In order to get that sixth spot, if available, Head Coach John Harbaugh said each competing receiver will have to 1) make plays on offense and 2) play an important role on special teams.

“Thompson would appear to be the more capable of the two to help out on special teams,” wrote the Carroll County Times’ Matt Zenitz.

The undrafted rookie also appears to be making more plays on offense. After a standout performance in the preseason opener with three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown, Thompson continued his streak in practice. He’s since caught a few more touchdown grabs from quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Harbaugh said that Thompson had a lull for a couple days in camp prior to the contest in Atlanta, but said he’s enjoyed another big spark.

“He’s making a little bit of a move,” the head coach added.

But don’t count out Streeter.

He’s still a little raw and lacks polish as a route runner, say Zenitz, but he’s 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

“Streeter, though, could be tough to get rid of because of his combination of size and speed,” wrote Zenitz. “[He] has big upside as both a deep threat and a weapon inside the red zone.”

C. Williams Losing Ground, Has A Weakness To Correct

Cornerback Cary Williams is losing ground to second-year player Jimmy Smith in the battle for starting cornerback, says Hensley.

Despite not playing in the Ravens preseason game (back), Smith may have helped his chances because Williams struggled to cover Falcons receiver Julio Jones. Williams gave up five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.

“The numbers are worse than the effort,” wrote Hensley. “On the first catch allowed, Williams tried to jam Julio Jones, who was able to get inside position for a 26-yard gain on a slant. The next two passes were completions to Jones when Williams played seven to eight yards off the line.”

The five year veteran’s weakness, according to Hensley, is that he plays the receiver rather than the ball. There were two plays in which Williams ran stride for stride with the receiver and was in good position, but just needed to turn to deflect the pass.

“When the regular season begins next month, Williams could look back at this game as a missed opportunity,” wrote Hensley. “The Ravens need to give Smith, a first-round pick from a year ago, a hard look with the first-team defense over the next three preseason games.”

Reed Sneaks Into Offensive Huddle

A playful Ed Reed was on display during Monday’s practice.

The veteran safety snuck into the offensive huddle as quarterback Joe Flacco was calling a play during 11-on-11 drills.

He found a nice little hiding place, standing next to the gigantic Bryant McKinnie (6-foot-8, 360 pounds).

“Reed blended in nicely. However, he was eventually noticed, prompting him to jog away,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Reed’s shenanigans come just a few days after the Ravens announced he wouldn’t play in the preseason opener, but the All-Pro ended up out there anyway because he didn’t have anything else to do and he needed to break in his jersey.

Which Defender Should Play On Offense?

With the New York Jets allowing cornerback Antonio Cromartie get some action at receiver, CSNBaltimore.com’s Ray Frager wonders which Ravens defender fans would like to see play some offense.

He throws out a few ideas:

Reed = a pass-catching running back
Ngata = fullback
Terrence Cody = guard
Lardarius Webb = wideout
Ray Lewis = tight end

Quick Hits

  • This has got to be the first time Ma’ake Kemoeatu (6-foot-5, 345 pounds) was called a mini anything … mzenitz: P. McPhee on Kemoeatu: “Dude’s a beast. He’s a mini Haloti Ngata.” [Twitter]
  • Oh perfect, just when he is switched back to left guard in practice yesterday … mzenitz: [Kelechi] Osemele on position he’s most comfortable at: “I feel like I’m actually more comfortable at tackle in general. … But, I’ve been hearing from a lot people that my frame would work really well at guard.” [Twitter]
  • Marshal Yanda brought in a T-shirt with a saying that players are embracing … KOsevendeuce: Just posted a photo [Twitter]
  • Haloti Ngata feels much more comfortable with his added weight. He’s gone from 335 at the end of the season to 342 now. Not only does he feel stronger with opponents double-teaming him, but he doesn’t feel like his conditioning is any worse. He says he is breathing just fine in camp. Listen to more of his explanation. [CSNBaltimore.com]

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