UNITY TWP., Pa. — When the Steelers reconfigured their practice schedule for the final week of training camp at St. Vincent College after the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake on Sunday, the team had one final full practice in pads before packing up and heading back to Pittsburgh.
On Wednesday, they made it a good one. After slogging through an emotional, rain-shortened affair on Tuesday, the Steelers were back to business with the proper emotion, mindset and attitude required to get things done on the practice squad.
“A good, spirited day up here in pad, our last day here in Latrobe in full pads,” Tomlin said. “There’s a certain urgency to that. .Certain things that we do here, the nature in which we work — carrying pads, the drills that we do — it’s just a captured moment. I thought the guys displayed that understanding today.”
It was also a fairly even practice, as the offense won the seven shots goal-line drill, the defense won the two-minute drill to close practice, and many, many competitive battles went back and forth across the practice fields.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
As the team gets into the finer details of situational football, they’ve been playing a lot more personnel groupings, especially on defense as they defend the Steelers’ typical three-receiver sets on offense.
That will change a little bit as practice transfers to the team’s practice facility, cuts are made and a scout team emerges.
But for now, its mostly ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos. So that means a lot of Nickel and Dime. Wednesday, the Steelers’ defensive linemen were working on how to deal with double teams out of their two-man, sub-package front.
After having near full participating on Tuesday, the Steelers were missing a host of players on Wednesday.
David DeCastro (soreness), Joe Haden (foot contusion), Maurkice Pouncey (undisclosed), Christian Scotland-Williamson (soft tissue), and Vince Williams (hamstring) all missed practice for the second straight day.
Joining them on the sidelines were Devin Bush (undisclosed), Zach Gentry (undisclosed), Sutton Smith (abdomen). Bush and Gentry were still pending evaluation. Tomlin said Smith has fallen behind with the amount of time that he’s missed.
B.J Finney left practice with a heat-related issue. Tomlin said Pouncey is expected to practice on Thursday. He called DeCastro and Haden day-to-day and Williams “close” to returning.
Patrick Morris stepped up for Pouncey when Finney went down. Matt Feiler slid to guard and Chukwuma Okorafor played tackle to fill in for DeCastro. Tyler Matakevich started at inside linebacker in place of Bush and Williams.
Cameron Sutton made a mockery of the team’s punt return hands contest. Players usually try to catch as many balls as they can without setting one down. He stuffed one under his shirt, then another, and then one under his pad backplate to “win” for the day.