LATROBE, Pa. - After four practices at Saint Vincent College, the Steelers are ready for a day off.
"We have a regularly-scheduled off day tomorrow," head coach Mike Tomlin observed late this afternoon. "We're encouraging guys to do the things that allow them to remain out here and continue to work.
"The off day probably comes at an appropriate time."
The toll taken in terms of availability in the early days of camp was apparent when the Steelers lined up for "Seven Shots."
On defense, Robert Golden was in Mike Mitchell's spot at safety, as he had been since the conclusion of "Seven Shots" on Sunday, and Tyler Matakevich was replacing Vince Williams at inside linebacker for the second consecutive day.
And by the end of practice defensive end Stephon Tuitt (ankle) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (heat-related illness) were no longer participating.
The offense didn't have wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner at its disposal and by the end of the afternoon had lost backup quarterback Landry Jones (abdominal strain).
Tomlin classified today's injuries to Jones, Tuitt and Shazier as potentially "minor" but "worth mentioning."
It's all a part of the process at training camp.
None of it was enough to dampen Tomlin's mood.
"We've gotten a lot out of these guys the last few days," Tomlin assessed. "The effort has been extraordinary, but that's to be expected when you're doing what we're trying to do here, which is develop into a world championship-caliber group."
BEN'S BACK:** After an excused absence on Sunday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was noticeable upon his return.
And he was heard from.
"C'mon, Jesse, put it away," Roethlisberger hollered after the first pass of "Seven Shots" went into and then out of the grasp of tight end Jesse James in the back of the end zone.
Roethlisberger scrambled for a conversion/touchdown and threw for one (to wide receiver Justin Hunter). But Roethlisberger also had a pass intended for wide receiver Eli Rogers swatted down by outside linebacker Bud Dupree.
Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh also had a pass defensed and tight end David Johnson also caught a conversion/touchdown pass (from Jones).
The defense won the drill, 4-3.
TACKLE FOOTBALL:** Tomlin credited the offense for its work in the 11-on-11 live tackling period, but the defense had its moments.
"I thought the offense did a great job today," he said. " I thought it was their day today, particularly in the run game."
Running backs Trey Williams and Brandon Brown-Dukes reeled off significant gains, the latter on a play that started outside before Brown-Dukes cut back and delighted the crowd.
But the pursuit on defense was likewise evident.
Running back Knile Davis slipped out of what would have been a tackle for a loss by Tuitt, but cornerback William Gay cleaned up with a tackle for a loss.
And Hunter avoided defensive end Tyson Alualu after Alualu had sniffed out a reverse, but still ended up losing yardage on a cutback thanks to the persistence of linebacker L.J. Fort.
"Good work," Tomlin announced. "Good period."
MEDICAL FILE: Tomlin said cornerback Senquez Golson and Conner were among the players who were sent to Pittsburgh today to be evaluated after sustaining injuries on Sunday. "That evaluation has happened. I don't have that information yet," Tomlin said. Defensive end Lavon Hooks, tight end Scott Orndoff and cornerback Cam Sutton were among those who didn't practice.
QUICK-HITTERS: Guard Ramon Foster was given the day off … Outside linebacker William Gay did what he's been doing since camp opened, work out on his own in sweats … Wide receiver Martavis Bryant, ineligible to practice because he hasn't yet been fully reinstated from suspension, caught passes on a field the Steelers weren't practicing on from conditioning assistant Marcel Pastoor. Bryant also had a conversation with General Manager Kevin Colbert after practice. "No development," Tomlin said. "I have nothing to report regarding Martavis. When I do have some pertinent information I'll provide it."