In the real first test of camp with pads on Mike Tomlin went to the old stand-by and crowd favorite. The linebackers pass rushing against the RB’s and TE’s, otherwise known as “backs-on-backers.”
In this drill the offensive player is forced to read whether the inside or outside linebacker to one side is coming. It’s a loaded drill decidedly in the favor of the defensive guys. In game conditions the backs will cut a bull-rushing or straight charging pass rusher. That makes the defensive guys uneasy and queasy about trying to run over a guy who will chop you in half, so the pass rush slows down when the cut block is on the table.
No such case here. No chopping allowed.
First ones up were Rashard Mendenhall against Lawrence Timmons. LT accelerated, put his helmet right in the chest of Rashard and ran him over like an 18-wheeler with a heavy load on a Prius. As the great dirt -pit wrestlers of India used to say when they body-slammed and pinned an opponent, “He showed him the sky.”
I happened to be standing by Mr. Rooney who said tongue in cheek, “Is that still legal?”
Rookie RB Baron Batch was pretty dad-gum noticeable in his efforts. So good in fact, that he was called out for a number of encores by Mike Tomlin. (Encores mean more reps). Batch won a couple against Jason Worilds, showing patience and great balance as well as a knack for using his hands like an offensive lineman punching out on pass pro. Batch even slowed the express train known as James Harrison, enough to even consider it a moral victory for Batch staying on his feet, in front of and concious the whole time against Harrison.
Stephenson Sylvester whoop-de-dooed (threw an arm-over move) on rookie RB John Clay so cleanly that the entire rush could’ve been captured on silent movies and you wouldn’t have missed a thing. It was a clean whiff by the young buck from Wisconsin.
The no-contact whiff by Clay caught Mike Tomlin’s attention and he remarked “We could’ve done this yesterday with just our helmets and shorts.”