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'Friday Night Lights'

Posted Aug 4, 2017

You can get to the end zone from Houston.

LATROBE, Pa. - Ben Roethlisberger didn’t participate and Landry Jones remained out (abdominal strain), which left the quarterback chores to rookie fourth-round draft pick Joshua Dobbs and undrafted rookie Bart Houston for the Steelers’ annual “Friday Night Lights” practice at Memorial Stadium.

Houston didn’t have a problem, at least not in “Seven Shots.”

His three snaps resulted in a conversion/touchdown pass to tight end Phazahn Odom, a conversion/touchdown to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on a fade and a conversion/touchdown to wide receiver Markus Tucker on a slant.

All the performance lacked was a QB-sneak in honor of Houston’s namesake, Bart Starr.

The offense never got the ball over the goal line with Dobbs at the helm. Running back Knile Davis was tackled short of the stripe by defensive end Stephon Tuitt, wide receiver Antonio Brown tried a pass for wide receiver Eli Rogers that fell incomplete and tight end David Johnson was unable to hang on to a Dobbs pass with cornerback Ross Cockrell pestering the receiving end of the play.

The offense was awarded a conversion/touchdown with Dobbs at the helm due to a face-mask penalty that was called by one of the visiting NFL officials against outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo.

The offense won the drill, 4-3.

RECOGNIZABLE SPECTATORS: In addition to Roethlisberger and Jones, players who didn’t participate in “Friday Night Lights” due to either injury or a coach’s decision included running back James Conner, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, linebacker Ryan Shazier, center Maurkice Pouncey, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and outside linebacker James Harrison.

Cornerback Artie Burns left practice after “Seven Shots” and did not return.

FALLEN HERO: The Steelers recognized Pennsylvania State Police trooper Michael Stewart, who was killed in the line of duty on July 14, with a ceremony prior to the start of practice. Members of Stewart’s family received a framed Steelers jersey with the name “Stewart” and the number 1 on the back in a presentation that included Steelers president Art Rooney II, General Manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin.

Stewart, 26, was a Latrobe native and had worked at nine Steelers training camps.

BACKS-ON-’BACKERS: Linebacker Vince Williams missed the first installment of the blitz pick-up drill last week but made the most of his opportunity to participate in the second go-around.

Williams won his first four reps (two over running back Fitz Toussaint and two over Odom) before finally being slowed down by Johnson, who stopped Williams on consecutive reps.

Williams (against Phazahn), linebacker Farrington Huguenin (against Davis), running back Trey Williams (against linebacker Matt Galambos) and Chickillo (against running back Brandon Brown-Dukes) highlighted the drill with “pancake” blocks of their opponents.

QUICK-HITTERS: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made the catch of the night when he stayed with and pulled in an under-thrown ball from Dobbs that had been deflected by safety Robert Golden … The Steelers estimated the crowd at 10,635 … Galambos intercepted Houston in 11-on-11 work … Linebacker Tyler Matakevich and outside linebacker T.J. Watt combined to stop Toussaint for a loss in 11-on-11 “tackle football.” … The practice was delayed due to lightning after it had begun but eventually resumed.