LATROBE, Pa. _ Inside linebacker Vince Williams had been held out of training camp’s first installment of “Backs-on-’Backers” by design, but he announced his presence with authority upon being unleashed at Memorial Stadium during “Friday Night Lights.”
Williams got the better of running back Jaylen Samuels in a one-off match-up during the 1-on-1 pass rush/pass protection exercise, and then eventually bettered Samuels on consecutive reps.
Finally, head coach Mike Tomlin called for Williams and fullback Roosevelt Nix.
Williams exploded into Nix initially and knocked Nix onto his backside.
Nix wound up on top of Williams on the ground in the rematch, but was called for holding.
Another highlight of the drill was the repeated battles between a pair of rookies, first-round inside linebacker Devin Bush and fourth-round running back Benny Snell Jr.
They went at it seven times, with Bush prevailing 4-3.
Bush blasted Snell to the ground on the first rep and won three of the first four.
But Snell took two of the last three, including the final rep of the evening.
MEDICAL FILE: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Donte Moncrief, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, safety Sean Davis, cornerback Joe Haden, inside linebacker Mark Barron, sixth-round outside linebacker Sutton Smith, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, center Maurkice Pouncey, long snapper Kameron Canaday, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, tight end Vance McDonald, and defensive end Cam Heyward were among those who either didn’t practice or were held out of 11-on-11 work due to injury or a coach’s decision.
Tomlin said third-round receiver Diontae Johnson (hip), Williams (hamstring) and outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo (hamstring) didn’t finish the practice.
FLYING FLAGS: NFL Referee Shawn Smith led a small contingent of officials in town to brief the players and coaches in a session with the media at Saint Vincent College. A video was presented that covered rules changes and points of emphasis in several aspects of the game, including blind-side blocks, team celebrations, kickoffs, penalties on touchdowns, booth replay reviews, back-side holding, player accountability and the challenging of calls and non-calls on offensive and defensive pass interference.
The skeleton crew worked practice for a second consecutive day and threw yellow flags when necessary, beginning with a false start call on the seventh and final rep of “Seven Shots,” the Steelers’ practice-opening, short-yardage/two-point conversion drill.
MOATS COMES HOME: Arthur Moats, an outside linebacker with the Steelers from 2014-17, attended “Friday Night Lights” while celebrating his retirement.
Moats also played for the Bills (2010-13) but he wanted to retire with the Steelers.
“I definitely loved Buffalo, loved the fans up there,” Moats said. “But I feel like I grew up a lot more when I came here. I felt like it was only right to close the chapter here.
“You can’t overlook the fans here. I feel like ‘Steeler Nation’ is literally the best ever. You go around the country, out of the country, you run into the fan base. And it’s just an awesome feeling that they always know who you are. So for me it felt like it’s the right thing to do.”
EXTRA POINTS: The offense won “Seven Shots,” 4-3 … Rookie Devlin Hodges followed Josh Dobbs in the rotation at quarterback. Mason Rudolph was third … Wide receiver Diontae Spencer dropped a pass while wide open over the middle in 11-on-11 play … Safety Dravon Askew-Henry intercepted a pass from Hodges that had glanced off wide receiver James Washington. Rookie cornerback Derrek Thomas, who had been signed on Thursday, made a leaping, one-handed interception in the end zone … Special teams work included a “scoop and score” drill on blocked kicks and gunners tryig to beat a double-vice covering punts … The Steelers estimated the crowd at 10,300 … Sideline visitors included three-time MLB All-Star Ken Griffey, the grandfather of first-year wide receiver Trey Griffey.