| Nose tackle Bryan Robinson (left) battles center Lyle Sendlein at a one-on-one drill at a recent practice.|
FLAGSTAFF – Lasting just a few seconds, the biggest men on the football field beat on each other.
Then, usually, one of them taps the other on the helmet, the violent encounter quickly forgotten.
Of all the work during practice, perhaps the most intriguing is the one-on-one blocking drills between offensive and defensive linemen. The 300-pounders go at each other in a way that would seem to guarantee hard feelings. But it doesn't.
"Yeah, I might be slapping a guy
in the head or Deuce (Lutui) is throwing me to the ground," veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson said. "But you get back up and say, 'That won't happen again because next time, I am going to get him.' And vice versa. That's the respect thing."
Guard Reggie Wells said in some ways, it's really no different than when wide receivers and cornerbacks go at it in their one-on-one drills.
"We have the luxury of being able to take out some aggression on the other person for however long it is, three or four seconds," Wells said. "You learn how to deal with it and learn how to move forward."
Wells said the work is "one of the most unrealistic drills" because rarely are lineman hooked up one-on-one for that long, although it does help with technique.
To get ripped to the ground or have a hand stuck up under your facemask isn't fun, and there are times when the combatants remain heated after the whistle. But it's surprisingly rare, given the circumstances.
"Guys have been playing this game since little league, high school, college and pros," Robinson said. "It's been happening for so long, it is ingrained in you that, at that time, it's competition. That's all it is. It doesn't go over the boundaries. You win, you win. You lose, you lose. But at the end of the day, you are teammates."
WAITING TO SEE
Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined to talk much about young players that have impressed him in camp, saying he wanted to wait until after the first game.
"A lot of times you get enamored with guys in practice and then they turn the lights on and they don't show up," Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt did say that Brandon Keith has looked good in his attempt to learn how to play guard, and rookie tackle Herman Johnson has performed well thus far. Whisenhunt went as far to say that he and offensive line coach Russ Grimm believed it was the deepest offensive line group they had been around, an impressive comment considering their years in Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals had fullback Dan Kreider finally return to practice today after he battled hamstring issues. Tight end Stephen Spach, with two practices, sat out the second workout as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired knee.
Five others remained sidelined: LB Chike Okeafor (back), RB Beanie Wells (ankle), TE Anthony Becht (hamstring), WR Early Doucet (shoulder) and DE Keilen Dykes (quad).
Whisenhunt did say he was hopeful Wells might be able to practice on a limited basis next week. If Wells is only limited, it seems unlikely he will have a chance to play in Thursday's preseason opener in Pittsburgh.