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Putting the band back together

Posted Aug 23, 2017

Pouncey: 'I'm just happy we were all back out there'.

It had been a while for the Steelers’ offensive line.

The only question was, how long?

“Probably eight days ago,” center Maurkice Pouncey said, estimating the last time the projected starting offensive line _ left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, left guard Ramon Foster, Pouncey at center, right guard David DeCastro and right tackle Marcus Gilbert _ had taken the practice field together, as they did this afternoon.

Foster thought it had been “since the first week and a half (of training camp) that all of us had been out there.”

There was no disputing the line’s mood upon its reunion.

“It was nice out there,” Pouncey said. “I’m just happy we were all back out there at one time, being able to practice together and getting our routine down, our camaraderie together, stuff like that.”

“It felt good,” Foster agreed. “It was just one of those feelings like, ‘Let’s get back to where we left off.”

Other developments this afternoon included:

-Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh getting more first-team reps than he had previously when both starting cornerbacks, Ross Cockrell and Artie Burns, had been available.

“With everybody healthy, yeah,” Sensabaugh said. “But when Artie was out (in training camp) I was basically in his position.”

Sensabaugh said he wasn’t thinking about a potential opportunity to start with the Steelers.

“I don’t focus on that,” he said. “I just focus on the things I can control and that’s going out every day, getting better, and then whatever happens, happens. Every day is an opportunity to go out there and get better, and just take advantage of the reps you’re given, whether you’re on 1’s (the first-team defense), 2’s (the second team), or 3’s (third team).”

-Outside linebacker James Harrison putting in some 11-on-11 work for the first time this preseason.

“It was alright,” Harrison assessed. “We just rotated back and forth, we rotate 1’s and 2’s.”

Harrison didn’t know if that meant he’d be playing Saturday night against Indianapolis.

“You have to ask ‘Coach’ (head coach Mike Tomlin) that one,” Harrison said. “I would think I would need to (play at some point in the preseason), yeah, but that’s neither here nor there. I did alright in practice. I would expect to play but that’s up to them.”

-Cornerback William Gay working at safety.

“The coaches wanted to see me back there,” he said. “I did it, shoot, it might have been in 2010, 2011. I was an emergency safety. This is the same situation. Something bad has to happen around here before I get back there at safety.”

-Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster returning to practice after missing Sunday’s 17-13 preseason victory over Atlanta (bone bruise).

“It felt great to be out there with the guys and also to be back out on the field, amazing,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent right now but I can do what I can put my mind to. Today I basically did everything and I felt like the outcome of my day was good.”

Smith-Schuster has missed time three times this preseason. He suffered an ankle injury on the first day of training camp. He had to be removed from the Steelers’ 20-12 preseason victory over the New York Football Giants on Aug. 11 (concussion). And he suffered a bone bruise in practice on Aug. 16.  

“Talking to Pouncey and Ramon, they were just telling me, if you make it through a camp, especially the Steelers’ camp, without injuries, God bless you,” Smith-Schuster said. “Me being young and playing with the big boys, I dealt with some injuries but it happens. You have to stay positive and keep fighting through it.”