UNITY TWP, Pa. — When the Steelers put their pads on for the first time in 2019 earlier this week at St. Vincent College, the team’s running game seemed to get a significant push against its defense.
On Thursday, the defense pushed back, keeping the Steelers’ backs in check in several team running periods.
But the offense still found ways to make big plays, with backs sneaking out of the backfield being a seemingly easy option.
Fullback Rosie Nix might’ve had the biggest play on a wheel route down the right sideline.
In individual drills, it was more of the same, as the backs and tight ends dominated the linebackers in one-on-one and two-on-two settings.
That’s part of the natural flow of how the team gets it’s game together and playbook installed. Sometimes the offense is going to be ahead of the defense, and sometimes, it’s going to be the other way.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Here are the Steelers running backs performing an agility drill, with coach Eddie Faulkner throwing a punching bag in at the end for good measure.
What’s particularly interesting about this drill is that you can hear the backs’ biometric performance tracking devices beep as they exert themselves.
Check it out:
Wide receiver Ryan Switzer (quad), tackle Derwin Gray (fatigue) and linebacker Anthony Chickillo (undisclosed) returned to action.
Receivers Donte Moncrief (dislocated finger) and Johnny Holton (hamstring) were limited participants.
Safety Sean Davis (dislocated finger, left hand) and linebacker T.J. Watt (left hamstring tightness) did not practice and remain day-to-day.
Linebacker Bud Dupree, linebacker J.T. Jones and guard Fred Johnson did not practice for the first time. Long snapper Kameron Canaday did not finish the practice after suffering a groin injury.
Diontae Johnson got most of the work at “X” wide receiver in place of Moncrief. Chickillo returned to Watt’s usual spot while Ola Adeniyi filled into for Dupree. Kameron Kelly continued to cover for Davis. Tight ends Trevor Wood and Vance McDonald filled in for Canaday.
Cornerback Herb Waters was waived/injured with his shoulder ailment.
Chris Boswell was put under some pressure toward the end of practice, and came through perfect — even with a backup long snapper.
Special teams coach Danny Smith put 12 seconds on the play clock and had the field goal unit get into position for a 52-yard try. Boswell got the attempt off just before time expired and it might’ve been good from 60 yards out.
Rookie backup Matthew Wright also made his kick, but his just cleared the bar.
The defense took home the victory in the team’s red zone drill thanks to a big play by a backup linebacker.
Ben Roethlisberger started the drill by throwing three straight passes at Terrell Edmunds. Diontae Johnson couldn’t hang on to the first one, JuJu Smith-Schuster brought the second one down in the back of the end zone and Eli Rogers scored on the third one, but the offense was flagged for a false start.
Then Roethlisberger found Johnson in the left flat after he escaped from cornerback Cameron Sutton.
Mason Rudolph ran the second-team offense, and he found James Washington over Marcus Allen, but his second pass, intended for tight end Zach Gentry, was tipped by Sutton and intercepted by Jordan Dangerfield.
That set up a 3-3 tie going into the final play, and linebacker Robert Spillane knocked away Rudolph’s pass that was intended for tight end Trevor Wood.