LATROBE, Pa. — It’s not often a professional player can regain the feeling of his high school days. Well, that was the case for the Steelers, who got to practice under the night lights of Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Fans packed into the stadium, which sits just about five minutes from St. Vincent College, the team’s normal training camp home.
The Latrobe community provided a homecoming atmosphere for the players, waving at them while they rode in school buses to the field. Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward spoke about the unique experience of practicing on a high school field.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
One of the few drills of the night saw the running backs put in work before a scrimmage. James Conner looked on as other backs swatted down a medicine ball to warm up.
The highlight of the night became a main event style one-on-one between rookies Devin Bush and Benny Snell. With head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger screaming in enjoyment, Bush and Snell fought tooth and nail to impress their peers.
Snell managed to get by Bush in their first matchup, which frustrated the linebacker Pittsburgh traded up to draft with the 10th overall pick. But after a brief pep talk from his teammates, Bush came back more focused and got the better of the running back in every other battle. This included Bush incorporating a new spin move that most watching had not seen him employ before.
Despite eventually losing the series, Snell’s toughness and hustle impressed many of the coaches watching.
Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs took charge of the Steelers offense with Roethlisberger sitting this practice out. The poor weather conditions and the fact Roethlisberger suffered an injury at this same practice last year likely led to the decision to let the veteran rest.
Both Rudolph and Dobbs threw multiple touchdown passes in the team scrimmage. It was Rudolph leading the first team offense and Dobbs running the second. As he’s been doing all camp, Dionte Johnson continued to perform with a couple catches in the back of the end zone.
Even though the Steelers defensive units got beat up on most of the night, corner Justin Layne was able to get in from of a few balls, including saving a score with a big deflection.